David Morley, Tristan da Cunha Administrator, said: ‘Tristan da Cunha, a British Overseas Territory deep in the South Atlantic Ocean, is home to the world’s remotest community of just 275 people. Despite the challenges and difficulties we face, Tristan islanders pride themselves on operating a well-run and sustainable fishery, with the invaluable support from our partners Ovenstone Agencies in Cape Town. It will be wonderful for this to be formally recognised by the cachet of an MSC ecolabel. I am most grateful to MacAlister Elliott and Partners for undertaking the assessment which we on Tristan intend to do all we can to ensure its success.’
Tristan rock lobster (Jasus tristani) are found only in the Tristan da Cunha group of islands (Tristan da Cunha, Gough, Nightingale and Inaccessible) and the Vema seamount (approximately 1000 nautical miles east-north-east of the islands, but not part of this assessment). The fishery has been commercially harvested since 1948 and today represents about 80 per cent of the islanders’ income. The annual catch is in the region of 442 tonnes (actual catch for 2008/09 435,246 kg), and is sold mainly to Japanese and American markets.
The fishery is managed by the Tristan da Cunha Fisheries Department, which sets an annual catch quota for each individual island, taking into account scientific advice from the University of Cape Town, and the need to ensure the long-term economic success of the fishery.
Ovenstone Agencies (PTY) Ltd is the sole concession holder for the TdC rock lobster fishery; they have held the license since 1997. Fishing at the three outer islands of Gough, Inaccessible and Nightingale, is conducted by the Ovenstone-owned freezer factory longline vessel, the Edinburgh, and her four dories, which fish the inshore grounds. Fishing at Tristan is conducted by Islanders employed by Ovenstone, using nine dories owned by the company. Catches are delivered to Ovenstone’s new factory that was commissioned in July 2009. The fishermen and processing staff are paid a basic salary and performance-based catch and processing commissions. Ovenstone controls all aspects of the catching, processing, marketing and export of Tristan lobster.