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Mexican Southern Gulf of California thread herring fishery enters MSC assessment process

The Southern Gulf of California thread herring (Opisthonema libertate, Opisthonema bulleri and Opisthonema medirastre) fishery located in Mexican territorial waters has voluntarily entered the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) full assessment process. The assessment is being conducted by third-party certifier SCS Global Services.  If this fishery successfully achieves certification, products from the fishery would then be eligible to carry the MSC’s blue ecolabel.

The MSC fishery standard is the world’s most recognized standard for the certification of environmentally sustainable and well-managed wild-capture fisheries. The transparent assessment will examine the fishery’s impact on fish stocks and the marine ecosystem. It will also evaluate the fishery’s management process to ensure that it is taking all necessary steps to protect the ocean environment for future generations.

About the Southern Gulf of California thread herring fishery

The southern thread herring fishery is located in the Gulf of California in the Mexican territorial waters of the states of Sinaloa and Nayarit.  The fleet uses purse seine nets to fish for herring 10 months a year.  The majority of the thread herring catch is used for reduction to fish meal/fish oil and is sold in more than 20 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia, with China being the main market.  The total catch in 2013 was 68,602 metric tons.

Three government agencies have roles in management of this fishery which represents approximately 37% of the total thread herring landings in Mexico.  SAGARPA (the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food) is the government body responsible for fisheries management; CONAPESCA (the National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission) is responsible for management, coordination and policy development regarding fisheries; and INAPESCA (the National Fisheries Institute) is the research arm providing data used for fisheries management decisions.

The client for this assessment, Maz Sardina S.A. de C.V., has seven licensed vessels operating in the fishery.  Maz Sardina has selected SCS Global Services to perform the independent assessment and has indicated it is open to sharing the certificate with other interested fishers operating within the area of assessment.

The MSC welcomes another Mexican fishery assessment

Brian Perkins, MSC’s Regional Director for the Americas, said:  “We are pleased to see Mexico’s Southern Gulf of California thread herring fishery come forward for assessment against the world’s most recognized standard for sustainable fishing.  With this additional Mexican fishery entering the program, the Mexican fishing industry is becoming a model for other fisheries in the region in demonstrating a commitment to effective collaboration with the aim of improving fishing practices and promoting sustainability.”  

Armando Coppel Azcona, General Director of Maz Sardina S.A. de C.V., said: “In recent years, we have taken our products to many countries and different industries, and have found consumers are increasingly concerned about the origin and sustainability of the products they are buying. In order to ensure our product is traceable and sustainable, Maz Sardina decided to enter the thread herring fishery into the MSC assessment process. In the Gulf of California there is already one certified fishery and another in the assessment process, and it is a source of pride for the entire Mexican fishing industry that we are making the effort to achieve this certification."

MSC’s Standard for sustainable fishing

The assessment will measure the thread herring fishery against MSC’s standard for sustainable fishing which was developed over the past 15 years in consultation with NGOs, marine scientists and industry experts.

The standard is based on three core principles:

  • Maintaining healthy populations of target species;
  • Maintaining the integrity, productivity and resilience of the wider marine ecosystem; and,
  • Effective management.

The MSC’s Global Impacts Report 2014 and Annual Report 2013-14 show that fisheries engaged in the MSC certification program are delivering improvements to the marine environment. Since 1999, those achieving MSC certification have made 575 improvements to their fishing practices, including measures to reduce unwanted bycatch of endangered species, restore habitat and improve scientific understanding of marine ecosystems.

Have your say

Stakeholder input is crucial to the outcome of a fishery assessment and all results are peer reviewed.  Anyone can be involved in the assessment process.  If you would like to bring information or concerns about the fishery to the attention of the certifier, SCS Global Services, please contact Dr. Sian Morgan at [email protected].  

Further information

For media inquiries please contact [email protected].

Key facts about MSC