The Russian Sea of Okhotsk walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) fishery has received Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification from independent certifier Intertek Moody Marine after IMM’s scientific, third-party assessment determined the fishery meets the MSC Standard as a sustainable and well-managed fishery. The target stock is found throughout the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk and commercial fishing occurs during two seasons: January to April, and October to December. The Federal Fishery Agency (FFA) plays the central role in managing Russian fisheries, including pollock in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Pollock from this fishery is used for a number of products including fillets, which are used to supply domestic markets in Russia, as well as Asian and European markets. Pollock surimi paste is also produced for domestic use and export. Pollock roe is principally exported to the Japanese and Southeast Asian markets, but canned roe is also sold domestically. In 2012, the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was approximately 840,000 MT.
What the fishery says
The Russian Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery was entered into assessment by the Pollock Catchers Association (PCA), an association of 45 fishing organizations that represents over 70% the total quota share for pollock in the Russian Far East. PCA Executive Director Alexey Buglak said: “We are pleased the Sea of Okhotsk Pollock Fishery has obtained MSC certification as sustainable and well-managed fishery. The fishery underwent an independent, scientific audit and the objection process has made the outcome of the certification even stronger and more solid. Russian fisheries management and the members of the PCA will work hard to implement further improvements and we look forward to working in close collaboration with the Russian Pollock Sustainability Alliance and NGOs who contributed to the outcome.”
What the MSC says
“The Marine Stewardship Council proudly welcomes the Russia Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery as a MSC certified fishery,” said Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas Region Director. “Significant and diverse stakeholder engagement in the assessment process strengthened the outcome and demonstrates there are checks and balances throughout the MSC program to ensure an outcome is scientifically rigorous and stakeholder inclusive. Pollock is an important protein source for global markets and the PCA will help assure these markets that they are sourcing from a fishery that is committed to protecting stocks for this and future generations.”
The Russian Pollock Sustainability Alliance, a global group of companies, collaborated with the Pollock Catchers Association to support the assessment. Speaking on behalf of the group, Peter Hajipieris, Chief Technical & Sustainability Officer from Iglo Foods Group, said: “The MSC certification of the Sea of Okhotsk Pollock fishery is of great importance to us all. Our aim was to collectively show, through international collaboration, that we could further the understanding and benefits of independent, third party wild fisheries certification and thus help to contribute to a long-term viable fisheries industry. We congratulate the PCA members for embracing these principles with us and the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency, whose many fishery science experts worked so hard to support the PCA in order to show that the Russian Pollock Sea of Okhotsk fishery deserves to meet the MSC standard. We look forward to continuing the work of the RPSA with the MSC stakeholder community, including the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who participated and contributed at key stages throughout this journey towards MSC certification.”
Besides Iglo Food Group, members of the Alliance (RPSA) include: Delmar, FrOsta, Gorton’s, High Liner Foods, Pickenpack, Royal Greenland and Young’s Seafood Ltd.
During the assessment, IMM identified eight improvement actions the fishery must complete during certification, including a requirement to strengthen the monitoring and observer program. This will involve the fishery working collaboratively with Russian fishery managers and research scientists and an international team of experts to prepare an analysis of coverage, consistency and accuracy of the records of landings within a year that will improve the quality of information available to the fishery in the future.