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Okhotsk Pollock Fishery Cleared as Sustainable

18 September 2013

RUSSIA - Independent Adjudicator (IA) Michael Lodge released his final decision in the objection filed by the At-sea Processors Association (APA) in the Russia Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery. He accepted the responses of the Conformity Assessment Body (CAB), clearing the way for the fishery to be certified to the MSC standard as a sustainable and well-managed fishery.

Consistent with MSC requirements, the CAB will have to submit its amended report to him to confirm that the changes made during the objection process are correctly reflected. Once that happens, the Public Certification Report will be published on the MSC Website, and the CAB will certify the Russia Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery. Once the certificate is issued by the CAB, products from the SOO pollock fishery will be able to be sold with the MSC claim and be eligible to carry the MSC ecolabel.

“The objection process is completely independent of the Marine Stewardship Council and underscores the impartiality and scientific rigor of the MSC program,” said Dr David Agnew, Standards Director at the MSC.

“WWF and APA objected to the certification. WWF withdrew its objection earlier in the year, following changes made to the fishery’s plans for data collection. As a result of the additional work required by the Independent Adjudicator under the APA objection, the scientific basis of the determination has been improved and the client action plan further strengthened. With this final decision, the CAB and independent adjudicator have determined that the fishery passes the MSC standard. MSC recognizes the importance of the contributions made by all parties and their commitment to sustainable fisheries.”

Process strengthens outcome

In the remand on the procedural issue, after reviewing the comments of the peer reviewer and objector the CAB decided to further amend condition 2 and client action plan to require a strengthening of the monitoring and observer program. The Public Certification Report will require a written analysis within a year to demonstrate coverage, consistency and accuracy of the records of landings and, if needed, to develop a plan to address any shortcomings. Further, the written analysis is to be prepared by a working group that includes the Russia Federal Fish Agency, Russian fishery research institutes, and internationally recognized experts, among others. These increased requirements add to the changes generated as a result of the WWF objection, and will act to improve the quality of information available to the fishery in the future.

Robust, impartial scientific outcome

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has no direct role in the objections process or outcome. After reviewing the final decision, Dr Agnew said: “The objection process provides another important check and balance in the MSC program and another layer of transparency that assures the parties directly involved, as well as global markets and consumers, that decisions about MSC certifications are arrived at impartially and based on comprehensive stakeholder input and independent, robust science that can withstand the highest level of scrutiny.”

The IA’s final decision can be read in entirety online at Russia Sea of Okhotsk documents.


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