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Sustainability notes

This is an overview of how the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Pacific cod fishery scored in assessment against the MSC standard. For the certifiers evaluation please download the full public certification report with detailed information on the performance of this fishery against the criteria of the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing.

The fishery scored as follows in assessment against the MSC standard for sustainable fishing. The highest possible score for each principle is 100 and a fishery must score at least 80 against each principle to get certified: 

MSC Principle

Fishery Performance





Jig
Longline
Pot
Trawl

Principle 1: Sustainability of Exploited Stock

Overall:  85, Pass

Overall:  85, Pass Overall:  85, Pass Overall:  85, Pass

Principle 2: Maintenance of Ecosystem

Overall:  85, Pass

Overall:  84, Pass Overall:  83, Pass Overall:  84, Pass

Principle 3: Effective Management System

Overall:  90, Pass

Overall: 90, Pass Overall:  90, Pass Overall:  90, Pass


Sustainability strengths

Some points on which the fishery scored over 90 are outlined below. 

Principle 1: the state of the fish stock

  • A risk averse management approach and harvest control rules have ensured the limit reference point has not been approached despite the stock suffering poor recruitment in recent years.
  • The stock is neither overfished (i.e. depleted) nor subject to overfishing.

Principle 2: the impact of the fishery on the marine environment

  • There has and continues to be significant research into the fishery ecosystem and the implementation of policies with respect to monitoring and minimizing the effect of the fishery on habitats and protected, endangered and threatened species.

Principle 3: the fishery management systems

  • The institutional and operational management of the fishery is considered overall to be very good. Dual management responsibility is shared between the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) whose jurisdiction is within the Exclusive Economic Zone (3-200 nautical miles) and, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) which has responsibility within state water, i.e. 0 - 3 nautical miles from the shore.
  • The management system is supported by strong legislation and implemented accordingly through the Council system and the ADF&G’s Board of Fisheries.

Challenges

In order to ensure its continuing sustainable operation this fishery made a commitment to improving its performance where it scored between 60-80. Some of the actions the fishery has committed to are:  

  • Provide evidence of the effect of the fishery on stock structure and whether this has had an adverse affect on recruitment. If the evidence suggests recruitment has been adversely affected remedial measures must be implemented.
  • Provide quantitative information on the accidental bycatch of seabirds to the species level.
  • Determine the origin and quantities of bait that are used within the fishery and evaluate and confirm that such quantities do not compromise the conservation status of the bait species (Pot and Longline gears only).
  • Quantify and identify the location of lost fishing gear and assess the extent of adverse effects, including “ghost fishing”. If adverse effects are identified identify ways of reducing gear loss and implement a program to monitor improving performance.
  • Quantify and identify the location of lost trawl fishing gear and assess the extent of adverse effects, including “ghost fishing”. If significant adverse effects are identified, identify ways of reducing gear loss and implement a program to monitor improving performance (Trawl gear only).
  • Provide adequate quantitative estimates of the effects of the fishery on seabirds (Trawl gear only).
  • Clearly describe and show that the state management system is monitored, evaluated and responsive to reviews and that the results of the reviews are made public.
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