Under the auspices of the SARPC (Syndicat des Armements Réunionnais de Palangriers Congélateurs or Reunion Freezer Longliner Shipowners Association ), French toothfish fishers in the Kerguelen plateau have been granted Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.
The fishery’s assessment confirmed the sustainability of the fishery and has led to the consolidation of stock assessment methodologies for Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) in the southern Indian Ocean.
Optimised Resource Assessment
French toothfish fishing zones lie where the cold waters of the Antarctic converge, between the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties in the south Indian Ocean. The demersal longline toothfish fishery operates in the French Southern and Antarctic Seas (TAAF), in the French Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Kerguelen plateau. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is around 5100 T and is divided among the SARPC’s six fishing companies, which operate seven longline vessels. “The French toothfish fishers’ commitment focuses on conserving resources. The assessment for MSC certification improved the collaboration between the Natural History Museum’s scientists, the shipping companies, the authorities and CCAMLR .
This work has resulted in greater transparency in setting TACs, increased the frequency of stock assessments and harmonised stock assessment methodology with that of CCAMLR. The other actions set up for the next five years of certification, will ensure that we remain very deeply involved in an approach of continual improvement of our fishery”, explained SARPC’s President, Yannick Lauri.
Respecting Ecosystems Produces Results
The Antarctic waters are home to some of the most exceptional ecosystems in the world, which French toothfish fishers are striving to preserve. Fishers actively participate in a great number of scientific and exploratory studies and apply conservation measures set by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), in particular those concerning the protection of birds, the presence of on-board observers and the monitoring of by-catches.
Of note are the many efforts, which are starting to work, that have been made to reduce the mortality of Grey Petrels – these include setting up weighted branchlines, using devices to scare birds away and compulsory night setting of lines. The fishery has also set up a Progress Plan based on a code of conduct to avoid zones and depths at which boats are likely to catch species other than toothfish.
Edouard Le Bart, Head of the MSC in France, commented “We would like to congratulate the French SARPC toothfish fishers for obtaining the certification, which rewards their sustainable fishing practices and in particular their work to conserve stocks and respect the ecosystem. This assessment is a perfect example proving that as well as recognising sustainable fishing, MSC certification is also a catalyst for fisheries’ progression, thanks to the active participation of all those involved. We are, therefore, especially proud to count the six SARPC fishing companies among the MSC-certified fisheries from now on.”
 The Reunion Freezer Longliner Shipowners Association (French acronym SARPC) was set up in 2002. It protects the interests of French Toothfish fishers and plays a major role in responsible resource management and protecting the environment.
The SARPC brings together six shipping companies authorised to fish for toothfish in the French EEZ of Kerguelen and Crozet.
These shipping companies currently operate seven longliners:
- Armas pêche: Mascareignes III
- Armements Réunionnais: Ile Bourbon
- Cap Bourbon: Cap Horn 1
- Comata-Scapêche: Ile de la Réunion
- Pêche-Avenir: Saint-André
- Sapmer: Albius and Croix du Sud
 Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources http://www.ccamlr.org