WWF supports Russian pollock certification under agreed conditions



Posted on 18 September 2013  | 
WWF welcomes certification by the Marine Stewardship Council of the Russian pollock fishery of the Sea of Okhotsk, the largest pollock fishery in the world and the fourth Russian fishery to obtain this eco-label since 2009. Russian pollock is an important fish for the world market.

“The MSC certification of the Russian pollock fishery has the potential to transform the whole fishing industry in Russia which will have positive impacts for consumers all over the world,” said Konstantin Zgurovsky, Head of WWF-Russia’s marine program.

“The Okhotsk Sea pollock fishery plays a very important role in the North Pacific marine food chain and ecosystem. We hope that due to joint work with fishermen and fisheries management bodies we will be able to achieve the highest international environmental standards for this fishery.”

In February 2013 WWF filed an objection to the certification of this fishery, which was followed by negotiations between WWF and the Russian Pollock Catchers Association (PCA). These negotiations resulted in important changes regarding the conditions and milestones related to the fishery improvements which have to be made during the five year certification period. WWF subsequently withdrew its objection, but has continued to monitor the independent adjudication process for the other objection filed by the At-Sea Processors Association. WWF welcomes the additional changes to the conditions that resulted from the adjudication process that will further strengthen the ability of the fishery to demonstrate coverage, consistency and accuracy of the records of landings. WWF believes that a rigorous, unbiased and transparent objection process such as this is a critical component of MSC certification process.

“Market-based incentives such as MSC certification play a crucial role in moving fisheries towards sustainability and encourage demand for responsible seafood products on the market. WWF will support the certification of this unit of the Russian pollock fishery under the agreed conditions and continues to offer recommendations whenever necessary to help the fishery achieve measurable improvements,” said Alfred Schumm, leader of WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative.

The PCA committed to increase monitoring activities and observer coverage on the vessels in order to provide more robust data regarding the volume of fish caught, bycatch of juvenile pollock and other species, interactions with endangered and protected species such as the Steller sea lion and seabirds as well as provide more transparency and traceability. This data collection will improve the overall management of the fishery and WWF believes that within a timespan of two years the fishery will make considerable progress towards sustainability in accordance with the MSC standards.

“The MSC certification of the Russian pollock fishery will bring major benefits to the fishing industry in the region. We look forward to working with the PCA to further improve the fishery through the working group process to achieve full compliance with the conditions and milestones during the five year certification period,” said Konstantin Zgurovsky.

WWF has been engaged for many years in the Bering Sea ecoregion which includes part of the Okhotsk Sea, providing financial and technical support for protected area management, anti-poaching brigades, citizen-led local watershed councils and promoting sustainable fisheries.
Fishing port of Vladivostok Russian Federation
© Vladimir Filonov WWF Canon Enlarge

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