Sardine fisheries in Spain and France are to have their MSC certification suspended from 12th March following audits that have concluded fishing effort is inconsistent with achieving MSY, despite both of these stocks in the Bay of Biscay being judged healthy.
The French south of Brittany purse seine sardine fishery was first certified in 2009 and recertified in January 2017, and the Spanish Bay of Biscay purse seine sardine fishery was certified in January 2017. The certification for both is to be lifted following the publication of updated scientific advice from ICES that revised the understanding of the sustainability of the sardine stock and consequently advised a reduction in fishing effort.
‘We have been working together with the French sector and with IFREMER and AZTI scientist over the last two years, with the aim of improving the management of the fishery and to agree upon a strong harvest control rule, which guarantees the sustainability of the fishery in the long term,’ said Miren Garmendia, General Secretary of the Federation of Fishing Guilds of Guipuzcoa.
‘Although this work has not been enough to avoid the suspension of the fishery, we maintain a firmly commitment to continue this work, together with the science community and all stakeholders, for the adoption of a robust management plan.’
According to Association des Bolincheurs de Bretagne, representing the Brittany purse seine fleet, the fishery has remained stable since the initial certification in 2009.
‘The suspension of the MSC certificate comes as a result of a new method applied to estimate compliance with MSC criteria, in a context of scientific advice still under development,’ the Association points out in a statement.
‘A decision that leads to the suspension of certification penalises the entire industry but does not call into question other criteria that are the reduction of environmental impacts and the management system responsible for the fishery.’
The Association states that its members will work with Ifremer to develop more reliable modelling and diagnostic tools, as well as with French and Spanish colleagues to put in place a long-term management plan.
‘The industry remains fully committed to the sustainability of the resource and a better knowledge of stocks, in order to allow the consumer to choose with confidence Bay of Biscay sardines from a sustainable fishery.’