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Премия рунета 2017

Fishermen of the Sea of Okhotsk regained the certificate of sustainability

30 august 2018
The Russian fisheries, which are members of the Pollock Catchers Association (PCA) in the Sea of Okhotsk have been recertified against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards of sustainability and have proved to be environmentally sound with no reservations.

Usually, in addition to the certificate of sustainability, an auditing company stipulates a number of conditions for the certifying fishery to follow to make it more environmentally sound. However, in this case, the auditing company, Acoura Marine, has not found any significant issues in the work of the PCA. Acoura Marine specialists only recommended the PCA to assess marine birds mortality, test mitigation devices, and increase the number of observers onboard trawl fishing vessels. The latter should make fishing processes more transparent.

“The cooperation between WWF-Russian and the Pollock Catchers Association started long before the first MSC certification of the fishery in the Sea of Okhotsk. At first, WWF-Russian had pointed at some failures in PCA’s operation, however, soon the grievances were heard, and the PCA changed their fishing practices for the better. For the last five years, we have witnessed positive changes through the annual auditing process. The Association conducted a research project to decrease the bycatch level of marine birds and sea mammals, and invited more observers onboard their fishing vessels. Also, the Observer Working Group was established to boost scientific observer coverage. This year, the number of observers increased up to 23 specialists from scientific research institutions,” says Andrey Vinnikov, the director of the Sustainable Fishery Programme with WWF-Russia.
Fishing for pollock in the Sea of Okhotsk
© Anna Lim / WWF-Russia
“We are glad that our efforts did not remain unrecognized. If we were to compare the results of the 2013 and 2018 auditing processes and present them in numbers, I can say that we managed to get significantly better in 22 of 30 criteria. Our overall result is 5 to 10 points higher, which proves high standards of pollock fishery management in Russia. It can be compared to the white fish fisheries of Norway, Iceland, and New Zealand,” says Alexey Buglak, the head of the Pollock Catchers Association.

The PCA has about 30 members and more than 100 vessels. PCA’s fleet catches almost 800 metric tons of pollock annually, which makes up slightly less than 50% of all-Russia pollock catches. Products from these companies are sent to the domestic, Asian and European markets.

The PCA received the first certificate in 2013. The successful recertification allows the PCA’s companies to place the eco-label on their products for the next five years.

So far, the MSC certification system is significantly better other similar ecologically valuable programs. The certificate is well regarded among retailers and buyers from the European Union and the countries of the Pacific Rim.

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