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Sustainability Issues Still Remain in Fish Oil, Fish Meal Fisheries

26 August 2016

GLOBAL - The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) has found in its annual sustainability overview of reduction fisheries for 2016 that only 3.8 per cent of the total catch volume of reduction fisheries comes from stocks in very good condition.

The overview covers twenty of the most significant fisheries used for the production of fishmeal and fish oil (with a total catch in excess of 7.8 million tonnes) but does not include reduction fisheries in Asia because of limited data availability.

The fisheries are rated according to the sustainability assessment presented on www.fishsource.com and use data that was publicly available in March 2016.

The report concludes that for the twenty stocks analyzed in 2016:

  • Only 3.8 per cent of the total catch volume of the reduction fisheries in this analysis comes from stocks in very good condition. As in last year´s overview, this corresponds to a single fishery: Antarctic krill - Atlantic Southern Ocean.

  • Most (57.4 per cent) of the total catch volume in this analysis comes from stocks that are reasonably well managed (or better) (i.e., that score 6 or above on all five FishSource criteria).

  • More than one third (42.6 per cent; 3.3 million tonnes) of the total catch for reduction purposes comes from the seven less well-managed fisheries (Category C) in this overview.

  • Only 14 per cent of the catch comes from stocks that score 6 or above in all criteria and the score for biomass is 8 or more, meaning biomass is at or above target levels (Category B1). This level of performance is in line with the current Aquaculture Stewardship Council requirements for fisheries providing fishmeal and fish oil for feed to certified farms (ASC 2012).

Four of the twenty fisheries have improved their status since 2015: Norway pout – North Sea (C to B1), lesser sand-eel – Dogger Bank area (C to B1), European pilchard – Northwest Africa southern stock (C to B1), European pilchard - Northwest Africa central stock (C to B2).

Two of the fisheries decreased in their sustainability category: Atlantic menhaden – NW Atlantic (B1 to B2) and Araucanian herring – Chilean (B1 to C).

Commenting on the report, Blake Lee-Harwood, Strategy Director at Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, said: “It’s unfortunate that less than 60 per cent of the volume of fish assessed by this report comes from fisheries that can be considered well-managed. This situation has not improved in recent years and there seems to be a lack of ambition in some regions. The good news is that there are at least two fishery improvement projects in place, two of the fisheries are certified to the MSC standard and another six are in MSC full assessment.”

The report – “Reduction Fisheries: SFP Fisheries Sustainability Overview 2016” – can be found here.

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