Monday, February 21, 2011
MSC Surveillance audit – South African hake trawl fishery
It is one year into the recertification of the South African hake trawl fishery. Moody Marine Ltd has sent a team to
to undertake the first surveillance audit of the fishery as required under the South Africa MSC eco-certification procedure.
The recertification the South African hake trawl fishery was not plain sailing for Moody. The unit of certification includes an inshore and an offshore fishery component on different species. The offshore hake, Merluccius paradoxus, is the main contributor to the fishery. It is in a collapsed state and did not improve during the previous certification period.
One of the independent reviewers of the Moody recertification strongly argued against calling a fishery “sustainable” when one of the components remains in a severely depleted state. This was overruled by Moody in their assessment, but did lead to “Condition 1” in the certification – a requirement that a recovery trend be demonstrated in M. paradoxus within the certification period.
So is there evidence that M. paradoxus is recovering? It is hard to tell. The last public-domain stock assessment document is a 2008 paper by Rademeyer and colleagues at the MARAM consulting company based in the Mathematics Department of the
. This assessment showed the spawning biomass trajectory up to 1999 and there is no evidence of rebuilding. University of Cape Town
The Moody 2010 certification report provides the public with a rare look at the assessment process and the state of the stock. According to the report “models developed and implemented by
MCM and its contractors are subjected to various reviews and debates through MCM’s Demersal Working Group. Industry, through their consultants, participate in the debates of the Working Group and have been influential in guiding the research.”
The assessment in the Moody certification report extends the spawner biomass series to 2007. Spawning Stock Biomass continues to decline, reaching the lowest estimated level ever. Projections under the MARAM management procedure predict that recovery will take place following 2007, however such projected recoveries are notoriously optimistic and routinely get postponed in subsequent assessments. There needs to be actual realized evidence of recovery to satisfy Condition 1, not merely a projection.
One assumes that the Moody team for the current hake surveillance audit will have MARAM and
MCM documents at their disposal in order to evaluate whether or not Condition 1 is being met.
There should be full public disclosure by Moody of all relevant
MCM and MARAM documents on M. paradoxus used in the audit, otherwise the public are being kept in the dark and have a right to be suspicious.