Pacific hake fishery enters assessment for re-certification


Source: Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Pacific hake offshore fishery, which operates off the west coast of the United States and Canada, has entered assessment for re-certification. The mid-water trawl fishery became MSC certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery in the fall of 2009.  Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) is also known commercially as Pacific whiting.

The management of the Pacific hake fishery is shared jointly by international agreement between the governments of Canada and the United States. A joint management committee recommends the annual Total Allowable Catch (TAC), while the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in the U.S. and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in Canada are responsible for domestic management of their country’s fisheries. In the U.S., the Pacific Fishery Management Council recommends management and enforcement measures to NMFS, while DFO in Canada meets regularly with the Groundfish Trawl Advisory Committee (GTAC), comprised of fishers, processors, coastal community leaders and labor, First Nations and the Province of BC to review the fishery and obtain information and advice on management actions, including catch data, stock movement and any potential Joint Venture opportunities to be allowed. In addition, Washington coastal tribes have treaty rights that are taken into account in the management of the fishery.

The annual TAC for the Pacific hake fishery has a fixed allocation of 73.88% and 26.12% for the U.S. and Canada, respectively. For 2013, the TAC has been set at 365,112 metric tons. The Unit of Certification accounts for 100% of the TAC.

The client group has both U.S. and Canadian participation. The U.S. members, led by the Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative, represent virtually the entire onshore and at-sea hake processing sectors and the vessels that harvest the catch. The Canadian Client group is led by the Association of Pacific Hake Fishermen who represent the majority of the harvesting sector.

The primary commercial markets for Pacific hake are Europe, Asia and North America and it is used in producing a variety of products including surimi and frozen fillet, dressed and whole fish block markets.

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