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US/Canada Pacific Hake Trawl Fishery Re-certified to MSC Standard

27 November 2014

US and CANADA - The Pacific hake mid-water trawl fishery, which operates off the west coast of the United States and Canada, has achieved MSC re-certification following an independent, third-party assessment by certifier MRAG Americas.

The mid-water trawl fishery first achieved MSC certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery in the fall of 2009. Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) is also known commercially as Pacific whiting.

The client group of the Pacific hake fishery includes both US and Canadian participation. The US members, led by the Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative (PWCC) and the Oregon Trawl Commission (OTC), represent the majority of the onshore and at-sea hake processing sectors and the vessels that harvest the catch. The Canadian client group is led by the Association of Pacific Hake Fishermen (APHF) who represent the majority of the harvesting sector.

The management of the Pacific hake fishery is shared jointly by an international agreement between the governments of Canada and the United States. A joint management committee recommends the annual Total Allowable Catch (TAC), while the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in the US and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in Canada are responsible for domestic management of their country’s fisheries.

In the US, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) recommends management and enforcement measures to NMFS, while DFO in Canada meets regularly with the Groundfish Trawl Advisory Committee (GTAC), comprised of fishers, processors, coastal community leaders and labor, First Nations and the Province of BC to review the fishery and obtain information and advice on management actions, including catch data, stock movement and any potential joint venture opportunities to be allowed. In addition, Washington coastal tribes have treaty rights that are taken into account in the management of the fishery.

The annual TAC for the Pacific hake fishery has a fixed allocation of 73.88 per cent and 26.12 per cent for the US and Canada, respectively. The primary commercial markets for Pacific hake are Europe, Asia and North America. It is used in producing a variety of products including surimi and frozen fillet, dressed and whole fish block markets.

Significant improvements achieved

“The combined efforts of the fishery client and fishery managers have resulted in significant completed improvements,” said Dan Waldeck, executive director, Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative.

“The development of a robust US and Canada Hake Treaty process with a shared vision of science-driven, sustainable management of the hake resource also contributed to the success of the re-certification of the fishery to the MSC standard.”

“The dedication and collaboration with DFO staff both in improving the fishery management process and in communications with industry and the public greatly helped with this achievement,” said Shannon Mann with the Association of Pacific Hake Fishermen.

“We congratulate the members of the Pacific hake mid-water trawl fishery on the re-certification of this fishery to the science-based, global MSC standard,” said Dan Averill, MSC fisheries outreach manager.

“The substantial improvements continue to contribute to the success of the fishery as sustainable and well-managed for this and future generations.”

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