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Portuguese sardine fishery MSC certificate reinstated

The Portuguese sardine fishery Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certificate has today been reinstated. A positive surveillance audit by independent certifier, Intertek Moody Marine, concluded that the reasons for the suspension have been successfully addressed. From today, the sardine coming from the Portuguese fishery can again be described and sold as MSC certified or carry the MSC ecolabel.

The MSC is the world’s leading environmental certification programme for wild-capture fisheries, and the MSC blue ecolabel assures consumers that the product can be traced to a sustainable source, providing an easy way to make the best environmental choice in seafood.

Anoperco sardine fishers committed to sustainable management 

The fishery was suspended in January 2012 as a consequence of an ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) assessment which showed that the sardine stock had fallen below the acceptable sustainable level (Blim - minimal biomass needed to ensure the sustainable reproduction of the stock) and that there was an absence of appropriate harvest controls. Consequently, the fishery no longer conformed to the MSC standard for sustainable fisheries.

A Sardine Commission comprising Anopcerco (the Portuguese Association of Purse Seine Producers Organisations), Docapesca (state-owned company under management of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sea, Environment and Physical Planning), the scientific body IPMA and the canning association ANCIP, chaired by the DGRM (Direção Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos) have agreed upon several measures for the reinstatement of the certificate:

-       The Portuguese Secretary of State for the Sea approved several Orders imposing a limit on the landing of sardines and a fishing ban for each production region. Docapesca, has been monitoring compliance with these Orders on a monthly basis.

-       A Corrective Action Plan “Sardine Fisheries Management Plan 2012-2015” was presented to the independent auditor and approved in April. This action plan aimed to promote the recovery of the sardine stock and to establish harvesting rules to be adopted over 2012-2015.

-       Working  together with the Spanish government for the adoption of the harvest control rules. Spain has formally adopted the plan for the management of the fishery in 2013 and Portugal and Spain have jointly submitted this management plan and the harvest control rules to ICES.

Stakeholders work together to tackle causes of suspension

In the third surveillance report, conducted last December, Intertek Moody Marine, assessed whether the conditions required to maintain the certificate had been addressed; the certifier concluded that all the milestones have been met. These conditions required: evidences of the recovery of the stock; a well-defined and effective harvest strategy along with effective harvest control rules and tools; an implemented strategy to manage the impacts on ETP (Endangered, Threatened, or Protected ) species; and, finally, the client should ensure continuity in the formal management of the fishery.

To download the full report of the surveillance audit please click here.

What Anopcerco says

“Anopcerco welcomes Moody’s decision and is grateful to all our partners for their hard work and effort that allowed the reinstatement of the desired and deserved MSC certification."

Humberto Manuel B. Jorge, President of Anopcerco, expressed: “Anopcerco welcomes Moody’s decision and is grateful to all our partners for their hard work and effort that allowed the reinstatement of the desired and deserved MSC certification. A special thank you to all the managers of Anopcerco’s associated producers organisations, as well as to the vessel-owners and fishermen that have rigorously complied with the management plan to increase the sustainability of the fishery.” 

Testament to commitment

Nicolas Guidoux, MSC Regional Director, said: "The reinstatement of the certificate today is testament to the commitment of all parties to improve the management of the fishery, and tackle the underlying causes of suspension last year.  Together, the fishery and its partners on the Sardine Commission have helped secure the future of this vital marine resource and so contribute to the environmental and economic health of the region."

Next steps

The fishery will be assessed again in January 2014 for the fourth surveillance audit. If the audit findings are positive, the fishery will retain its MSC certification.

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For media inquiries, please contact Cátia Meira at [email protected] or on +34 637 55 76 46 (cell).