International assessment of fishing for cod and haddock in the Barents Sea is being completed
Until the end of September an international auditor reviewed the compliance of almost a quarter of fishing for cod and haddock in the Barents Sea with MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) standards, based on the Code for Responsible Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations. Company auditor assessed the state of stocks of haddock and cod, the impact of fishing on the environment and its system of management. Results of the review show that the chances of a positive decision are high, and probably in the near future, the auditor will declare that this fishery received the most prestigious international certification - Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certification.
WWF points out that despite some problems, the overall state of the Barents Sea stocks of cod and haddock in recent years haven’t caused any concern. Illegal fishing for these species has declined after the decision of the Government on the mandatory entry of Russian vessels with export products to Russian ports. Besides, Russian-Norwegian Commission on regulation of fishing in the Barents Sea works efficiently. Federal Fishery Agency introduces more rigorous reporting measures. Fishermen are also taking measures as they do not want illegal products to undermine the market for legally caught fish.
WWF congratulates the company auditor and fishing companies of the Barents Sea with the completion of a difficult work, but believes that certification can be successfully completed only after a number of significant changes into a fisheries management. At the stage of public discussion of the results of the review in September WWF sent its observations to the company auditor - they are now under consideration.
In particular, according to WWF, the quality of the accounting for bycatch and discards of the undersized haddock, cod and other species is not high enough. Haddock and cod are caught by bottom trawls, which «capture» along the way a lot of «unnecessary» living organisms. The size of the bycatch should not exceed a certain amount set by the government, and fishing companies should make efforts for its reduction. But now there is no accurate accounting for bycatch.
«There are also some gaps in the control of fishing, - says Konstantin Zgurovsky, Head of Marine Programme of WWF Russia. - Companies which are doing the transshipment of fish often charter the ship with the so-called »flag of convenience'. Ships with flags of the countries that have favorable conditions for registration are not equipped with a transmitter, which allows the authorities to monitor the ship using a satellite monitoring system”.
WWF proposals that were sent to the company auditor also indicate a number of other problems that prevent the fishing from achieving the highest international environmental standards. These include the improvement of a satellite monitoring of fishing, introducing an effective and independent from shipowners system of monitoring, use of scales for weighing the bycatch and surveillance cameras on board, stricter control at ports, measures on the reduction of the impact of fishing on benthic ecosystems.
«The level of standards should not be lower for Russian fishermen than for fishermen in other countries. Environmental certification of fishing gives companies an advantage on the Western market, - says Konstantin Zgurovsky. - And soon, Russian consumer will wonder, too, – am I eating the right fish? ».