Fisheries certifier earns top marks

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Krill, Salmon

Fisheries certifier earns top marks
The Marine Stewardship Council, a group that certifies the sustainability of oceanic fisheries including some that supply omega-3s, has again earned the designation as the most rigorous of certifying organization.

Accenture, an international management consultancy, rated all of the various organizations in a recently released report titled Smart Fishing Initiative: Comparison of Wild-Captured Fisheries Certification Schemes.

MSC earned top spot in the ranking, and was judged to be fully compliant with criteria set forth by the World Wildlife Fund.Friend of the Sea, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and Iceland Responsible Fisheries were judged to be less rigorous, according to the report.

MSC didn’t make significant changes to it’s program to maintain it’s top ranking, Kerry Coughlin, MSC’s regional director, Americas told NutraIngredients-USA. Rather, the high ranking resulted from consitent application of a formula that has been in place since MSC’s founding more than a decade ago.

“It was an extremely thorough, collaborative process that established the MSC program, our standand, our methodologies,”​ Coughlin said., “It was literally hundreds of academics, scientists, industry experts, conservation organizations over two years developing both the fisheries standard and the traceability standard.

“We’ve maintained that same sort of standard over our day-to-day operations.  It’s not that there’s radical change or a raising of the bar, but we do always examine ways to improve the program,”​ she said.

“The idea was to make sure of a very rigorous and robust program that reflects global scientific consensus on this practice.”

“I feel absolutely confident that MCS is playing a key role,” ​she said. “We really are beginning to see trend lines that were downward now starting to move up.”

Omega-3s sustainability

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly serious issue in the omega-3s ingredients space.  The fisheries that supply these ingredients are, for the most part, already at maximum capacity; yet the demand is slated to continue rising; few of the world’s 7 billion people currently consume the benchmark dosage of 500 mg/day.

Among the fisheries that MSC certifies are those that supply omega-3s.  The lion’s share of these ingredients come from the anchovy fisheries off of Peru.  These fisheries are not now currently certified, though there are signs that they are moving toward entering the MSC program, Coughlin said. Other fisheries from which omega-3s are derived, such as the Alaskan salmon fisheries, are certified, she said.

MSC’s renewed top rating is good news for krill oil supplier Aker BioMarine, which has built its corporate profile around its sustainability message.  Aker, with two vessels now operating in the South Atlantic, now brings in more than half of the world’s krill harvest.  Aker received its MSC certification in 2010, after going through the rigorous and expensive program.

Aker has long maintained that krill is a highly under ultilized biomass resource;  the krill fishery as a whole brings in a small fraction of the catch quota as set by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

“I think the message there is krill is sustainable, krill is extremely well managed and krill will be big part of meeting the world demand for omega-3s moving forward,”​ said Eric Anderson, global sales manager for Aker BioMarine.

“Krill shouldn’t be questioned, it should be held up as a model,”​ he said.                        

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