Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) has released their annual sustainability overview of fisheries used for fishmeal and fish oil. The overview covers the 28 principal reduction fisheries around the Atlantic Ocean and South America rated according to the sustainability assessment. The ratings are based on data publicly available in April 2013.The briefing can be found here.
The report shows that about 70% of fish from the Atlantic Ocean and South America used for fishmeal and fish oil come from relatively well managed stocks and would meet the current feed requirements of most leading aquaculture certifications. The other 30% of fish originate from 14 stocks that are not well managed, although only four of those were rated poorly on biomass – a crucial indicator of environmental impact.
The findings of the report are broadly consistent with those of previous years. SFP has calculated that almost half of all fish used for fishmeal and fish oil come from stocks that contain fishery improvement projects making good progress. This suggests that the performance of fishmeal and fish oil fisheries will improve over time.
The report also finds little evidence of ecosystem-based fisheries management being applied in a consistent and comprehensive fashion. The report recommends that fisheries that have mastered single-stock management should begin to consider the wider effects on marine food webs.
Commenting on the results of the report, Jim Cannon, CEO of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, said:
“It is good news that a large proportion of fish from the Atlantic Ocean and South America used for fishmeal and fish oil come from relatively well managed fisheries. We are also very pleased that almost half the fish are from stocks that contain at least one fishery improvement project and we expect to see an increase in management performance in future years. However, it is disappointing that there is still little evidence of ecosystem-based fisheries management being applied within the sector and future reports will examine this question in greater detail.”
In summary, the briefing concludes that for Atlantic Ocean and South American reduction fisheries:
- One stock featured in the survey scores 8 or above across all five FishSource criteria (category A – the top category): Atlantic herring – North Sea autumn spawners.
- 27.2% of the catch comes from stocks that score 6 or above in all criteria AND the score for biomass is 8 or above, meaning biomass is at or above target levels (category B1). These stocks are in very good shape, although may merit some improvements in management regime.
- 40.3% of the catch comes from stocks that score 6 or above across all five criteria but not 8 or above for biomass (category B2). These stocks are in good shape but would benefit from improvements in management regime.
- 30.6% of the catch comes from stocks that score below 6 on at least one of the criteria (category C). These stocks have not been effectively managed or are currently in bad condition and significant improvements are required.
- Cumulatively, 69.4% of the catch comes from stocks that score 6 or above on all five criteria – this is broadly in line with the feed requirements of existing and proposed aquaculture feed sustainability standards.
- Although 14 stocks are in category C, only 4 of these score less than 6 for biomass (score 4) – at least where data is available. Biomass is a crucial factor in determining the sustainability of fisheries management, so the relatively small number of stocks that score below 6 is to be welcomed.
- Fishery improvement projects (FIPs) are present in 15 of the 28 stocks – 6 of these FIPs are making progress, while 9 are making insufficient progress in the opinion of SFP.
- Four of the stocks assessed contain fisheries that are certified according to the Marine Stewardship Council or in full assessment. Twelve of the stocks are used as sources of fishmeal that is certified under the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation Responsible Supply (IFFO RS) program.
- 77% of the total catch comes from stocks that contain either at least one MSC-certified fishery or a FIP. 13% of the catch comes from a stock that contains at least one fishery that is MSC certified, 46.7% of the catch comes from stocks that contain at least one FIP that is making progress, 19.7% of the catch comes from stocks that contain at least one FIP that is making insufficient progress.
- No reduction fish stock is currently managed within an ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) regime. This situation needs to improve significantly. Fisheries that have established a successful single-species stock management regime should now be looking to evolve an ecosystem-based approach to ensure sustainability in the future.