SETFIA congratulates New Zealand on the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of three of its largest orange roughy fisheries, following a lengthy and rigorous assessment process. This achievement is a testament to the New Zealand seafood industry and the Department of Primary Industry’s heavy investment in rebuilding the orange roughy stocks over the last 20 years.
To get to this stage, New Zealand reduced catches and set conservative harvest levels, and invested in world leading scientific techniques to measure and assess stock sizes. This included working with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO) over the last 18 years to continue the development of a multi-frequency Acoustic Optical System (AOS) that allows for the accurate and real time assessment of orange roughy stock sizes. This information is then used to set sustainable catch limits that ensure 95 per cent of the adults in the stocks are left in the water to continue to breed and to sustain and grow the population.
This development is particularly pertinent to the Australian South East Trawl Fishery (SETF) for various reasons. Commercial fishing of the eastern orange roughy stock recommenced almost two years ago, following a 10-year closure. The same CSIRO AOS technology used in New Zealand has also been applied to Australian orange roughy stocks off eastern Tasmania over the last 10 years to assess their status. This information is used to inform stock assessments and set sustainable total allowable catches.
The international gold standard sustainability tick of approval is the first of its kind globally for orange roughy fisheries. It is a great example of how investment in sound scientific innovation and strong fisheries management can lead to profitable and sustainable fisheries.
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