Portuguese Sardine fishery update: corrective action plan approved
Apr 19, 2012
The current suspension of the Portuguese sardine fishery MSC certificate will remain in place after independent certifier, Intertek Moody Marine, accepted an action plan to address the current sardine stock issue. The successful development of an action plan means the fishery will not have its certificate withdrawn at this time. However, the suspension will stay in place until there is evidence of stock recovery.
A successful first step to overcome the suspension
The Sardine Fishery Management Plan 2012-2015 proposed by the fishery, aims to promote the recovery of the sardine stock and to establish harvesting rules to be adopted over 2012-2015.
The principal conclusions and harvest control rules agreed in the action plan include:
- Current Biomass is 15% below Blim (307.000 tonnes). Blim is the minimal biomass needed to ensure the sustainable reproduction of the stock.
- The last benchmark carried out in February 2012 (where a new assessment model was used) shows more optimistic results regarding the status of the stock. However, in spite of these results and the fact that fishing mortality (F) was found not to be the only cause of stock depletion, the action plan focuses mainly on the reduction of fishing activities.
- Due to the change in the assessment model, the ICES recommendation made in July 2011 has been amended and the recommended TAC of 36,000 tonnes has been increased to 51,000 tonnes for the entire stock.
- In order to follow the new recommendations, the main harvest control rule established in the action plan is the fixation of a total quota of 35,700 tonnes for 2012 for the Portuguese fleet, distributed with 9,000 tonnes already approved for the period January-May and a further 27,000 tonnes for the period June-December. This represents a reduction of 35 % from 2011 estimated captures .
Other harvest control rule measures already approved and implemented by the Portuguese fisheries administration are included in the action plan:
o A compulsory 45 days fishing ban was imposed during the period 01Jan/31Apr 2012.
o A limit of 9,000 tons for total landings was imposed for the period 01Jan/31May 2012.
o The 48 hour ban on fishing at weekends is maintained.
o Daily catch limits for non-associates are maintained.
o Increased frequency of monitoring and control by the Fishery Management Group (monthly reports).
The need for coordination with Spanish fisheries authorities is identified as a key issue to achieve the expected results of the management action plan.
The action plan is accompanied by a technical report written by the Portuguese research body to explain the changes in the recommendations following the results of the new assessment model and simulations of a range of scenarios run to guarantee that the recommendations may help to increase the biomass level above Blim before 2015 and therefore overcome the suspension.
Timelines for the suspension
In order for the suspension to be lifted, there are two requirements that must be met:
- Firstly, a strong corrective action plan is to be presented before 12 April 2012 - COMPLETED
- Secondly, stock status must show that the decline has been reversed
If Anopcerco considers that sufficient progress has been made to justify reinstatement of the certificate, it can ask IMM to perform an audit and verify that the reason for suspension (i.e. the poor status of the stock, with biomass below Blim) has been addressed.
Certification will be reinstated as soon as the certification body has evidence of recovery of the stock. This evidence may be provided by the ICES assessment to be conducted in July 2012 or by a further analysis scheduled for July 2013. Otherwise, the suspension may be maintained until expiry of the certification in January 2015.
For more information, please contact Laura Rodriguez, Marine Stewardship Council on +00 34 91 831 59 63/+00 34 674 07 10 54 or email email@example.com