Monday, July 28, 2008

MSC Fishery Certification

With fishery management on the north coast following its age old tradition of staggering from one conservation crisis to the next, we thought it was time to delve into the world of fisheries Certification. Before you roll your eyes and nod off to sleep, the Certification process in fisheries management is incredibly important. Having your fishery Certified as sustainable allows your fish products access to huge European markets labelled as green product. Getting BC fisheries Certified is a major goal of the BC fishing industry, BC Govt., and DFO. Whether there is any truth in all of this marketing hype labelling is another story...but the letter below might shed some light on this process for you.

The largest fisheries certification organisation Right now British Columbia pink and chum salmon fisheries are undergoing the MSC Certification Assessment process by a company called TAVEL
Closing date for submission was June 23....prior to this seasons fishery for some reason. But we thought the MSC would be very interested in how things are going this season for the two species. So, we'll give them a little update in an open letter presented below;
Dear MSC/Tavel,
It has come to our attention that your organisation is currently undertaking an assessment of the chum and pink salmon commercial fisheries in British Columbia. Our group, the North Coast Steelhead Alliance, monitors fishery management on the north coast of BC and would like to bring to your attention what we perceive to be major flaws in the management of these two species.
Chum salmon: Chum salmon on the north coast of BC are widely known to be a depressed stock with no directed fisheries allowed on them. However, this regulation does not afford any protection from chum salmon being caught as non-target bycatch in other slamon fisheries. In Statistical Area 3 we have witnessed what we consider a high chum salmon bycatch. For example,
there have been 6 gillnet openings in Area 3 which resulted in a catch of 29,547 target sockeye while also catching 12,288 non-target chum salmon. That would seem like an inordinate amount of by-catch to target species ratio. The latest opening, July 27 resulted in worse catch and by-catch statistics: sockeye:1393 chum:1539...The 33 gillnetters actually caught more non-target depressed chum salmon than the target species. In total for Area 3 the latest catch statistics are; sockeye:33,830 chum;13, by-catch is approx. 40% of what the target catch was.
Plus, there have been 3 seine openings in Area 3 in which chum were non-retention...but impacted by being caught and handled etc.
Pink Salmon: The Pink salmon return for 2008 on the north coast can best be described as dismal. The Tyee Test Fishery Index numbers are the second lowest this decade and the 2008 return is 77% of the 8 year average. However, pink salmon quotas in the seine ITQ fishery have been increased twice in the past week. The pink salmon ITQ quota last week was approx 190,000. How could this apparent discrepancy be discribed as sustainable fishery management by any reasonable independant observer?
Thank you for this opportunity to keep your Assessment team aware of recent pink and chum fishery management issues on the north coast.
K. Douglas
Chairperson, NCSA

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