Monday, July 26, 2010

Objection to MSC certification of Ross Sea toothfish to be upheld?

The certification of the Ross Sea longline fishery for Antarctic toothfish hangs in the balance. Independent Adjudicator Michael Lodge will decide in the next few days whether to uphold the ASOC objection to Moody Marine Ltd’s determination, or issue a further remand to Moody to properly address the issues that have been raised.

So far Moody has refused to blink.

In its 2nd June response to Lodge’s initial remand, Moody fought back admitting no changes to its scoring guideposts or scores – 89% for Sustainability of Exploited Stock, 89% for Maintenance of Ecosystem and 93% for Effective Management System. An A+ for sustainability.

Remember though, this is an “exploratory” fishery on a long-lived, slow-growing, low fecundity top predator in a largely pristine ecosystem. As with most exploratory fisheries, we only have rudimentary knowledge of the biology, life history, stock structure and migration of toothfish in the Ross Sea, and management measures must be considered preliminary at best.

Although the CCAMLR stock assessment is the best available, it admits to considerable uncertainty in many aspects. This was pointed out in a critical review of Moody’s draft report by Dr Michael Pawson, an expert in stock assessment who formerly worked at the famous Lowestoft Fisheries Laboratory, but Moody was characteristically dismissive.

In it’s 21 June comments on Moody’s response ASOC does not hold back: “As explained clearly in his decision, the IA[Independent Adjudicator] has had very serious concerns about the process MML [Moody] undertook with regard to this certification and with the conclusions it reached. Nonetheless, MML’s response is, at very best, superficial. It has largely re-stated its existing rationales and has not provided any new, substantive justification or thinking – let alone changing a single score. The response suggests that MML does not take the adjudication process seriously.”

Will Michael Lodge agree or will he give Moody one more chance?


  1. Come on Michael Lodge, do the right thing...turn this sustainabilty determination by MSC down. There have been enough collapses of toothfish fisheries to teach us that one has to err on the side of caution. Make the right decision, please.

  2. Not a chance, we just got a second remand instead of a final decision on certification. Final decision will follow after Moody gets another chance to make dismissive comments.