Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) today (27 July 2015) released the annual sustainability overview of reduction fisheries. The overview covers 24 of the most significant fisheries used for the production of fishmeal and fish oil (with a total catch in excess of 9 million tonnes) and rated according to the sustainability assessment presented on

The ratings are based on data publicly available in March 2015. The report – ‘Reduction Fisheries: SFP Fisheries Sustainability Overview 2015’ – can be found here. In summary, the report concludes that for the 24 stocks analysed:

  • Just 2% of the total catch volume of the reduction fisheries in the analysis comes from stocks in very good condition (Category A). This corresponds to a single fishery:  Antarctic krill.
  • Cumulatively, most (62.5%) of the total catch volume in this analysis comes from stocks that are reasonably well managed (or better) (i.e., that score 6 or above on all five FishSource criteria).
  • More than one third (37.5%; 3.5 million tonnes) of the total catch for reduction purposes comes from the 12 poorly managed fisheries (Category C) in this overview
  • Only 12% of the catch comes from stocks that score 6 or above in all criteria AND the score for biomass is 8 or more, meaning biomass is at or above target levels (Category B1). This level of performance is in line with the current Aquaculture Stewardship Council requirements for fisheries providing fishmeal and fish oil for feed to certified farms.
  • Of the 24 fisheries analysed, four fisheries improved from 2014 and six had lower grades.
  • Five of the reduction fisheries assessed in the report have fishery improvement projects in place.
  • 90% of the catch supply from reduction fisheries in the overview comes from either fisheries approved by the IFFO RS (International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation Responsible Sourcing) certification or from MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified fisheries.
  • The proportion of catch from fisheries associated with the MSC programme is increasing.  13.7% of the total catch now comes from fisheries engaged in the MSC program (i.e., either certified or undergoing full assessment) whereas this figure was only 3% in 2014
  • With the exception of MSC-certified fisheries or fisheries under MSC full assessment, none of the fisheries reviewed in this report consider wider ecosystem effects when creating management regimes.
  • The lack of publicly available fisheries data has been a major problem for SFP in reviewing reduction fisheries. SFP has identified five key data “building blocks” that need to be made public to allow an accurate assessment of a fishery but only 9 of the 24 fisheries studied by the report have all of them. Four fisheries have none at all.

Commenting on the results, Blake Lee-Harwood, Strategy Director at Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, said:
 “This report confirms that most of these reduction fisheries are relatively well managed but there is little room for complacency. More than a third of the catch going to fishmeal and fish oil has significant problems and this figure has hardly changed in recent years. There is also little recognition of ecosystem elements in the management of many fisheries and significant problems with transparency of data.”
He continued:
 “The fishmeal and oil industry remains essentially a responsible industry that works hard to manage stocks effectively but we need to see a concerted effort to raise the bar and boost performance. It is very heartening that there are at least five fishery improvement projects among the fisheries being studied and that the number of fisheries associated with the MSC programme is increasing significantly.”