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Icefish campaign under way

AUSTRALIAN Mackeral Icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari) is the latest world fishery to join the Marine Stewardship Council certification process as it prepares to market itself internationally.

Currently, a 2800-tonne annual controlled fishery, Mackeral Icefish is a sideline of the larger Patagonian Toothfish industry.

But Austral Fisheries CEO David Carter said that, unlike the toothfish, icefish was not something illegal vessels would normally target because of its meat weight value and the distance needed to access it.

However, the fish was an excellent table fish and was popular in countries such as Russia, he said.

The icefish fishery which centres around McDonald and Heard Island in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, is already subject to scrutiny by Australia’s Fishing Management Authority, and has applied for full MSC assessment.

The fishery is highly scrutinised because of its role as a food source in the environmentally sensitive region.

Mr Carter said he was proud that “this fishery has applied for MSC certification.

“We are delighted to be measured against the rigorous, internationally recognised MSC standard to validate our sustainable fishery and its good management,” he said.

MSC chief executive Brendan May said he was pleased that yet another fishery had entered the MSC process.

“It is further evidence that the MSC label is increasingly sought by the seafood industry. The global reach of the MSC program is fast increasing, as is its acceptance among conservationists and fishing operators alike,” he said.

The MSC was established in 1997 by Unilever and WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and has been independent since 1999.

Fisheries voluntarily come forward to be assessed against the MSC standard by independent certifiers accredited by the MSC. 

Seven fisheries have been certified as sustainable by the MSC to date: Western Australian rock lobster; Thames Blackwater herring; Alaskan salmon; New Zealand hoki; Burry Inlet cockles; the South West mackerel handline ; and Loch Torridon Nephrops.

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