Patrick Cordue, the stock assessment author of the 2014 New Zealand orange roughy assessments, reflects on how the science and management of New Zealand’s orange roughy fisheries have advanced in the last two decades.
Fisheries play a vital role in food security and global economies as well as social structures in coastal communities. With a growing recognition that individual livelihoods are heavily dependent on healthy fishery resources, more and more players in the fishing industry are making stronger commitments to sustainable fisheries management.
Before joining the MSC in February 2016, I spent 3 and a bit years working for the UK government as fishery manager. One of my roles was to assess the impacts that different fishing techniques have on protected marine environments. As with many elements of fisheries management, the answer to the question: “Which fishing method is most environmentally-sound?” isn’t as simple as it may seem.
Healthy tuna populations are essential to thriving oceans and fishing economies as well as being an important source of food. Tuna are among the most commercially valuable fish on the planet, providing livelihoods for artisanal fishing communities through to supporting large multinational companies. As such, protecting tuna populations and ensuring that they are fished in a sustainable way, is a global conservation and development priority.
In Australia, there’s been a marked shift in the seafood industry. Now, it’s absolutely clear to the supply chain and the retailers that consumers want to know more about what they’re buying. They might not always choose certified goods at the counter, but they want to know whether their products are sourced responsibly, where they come from – and that someone’s taking care of these things. That’s not just true of fish: a great deal of progress has been made in free range chicken eggs, pigs, and so on. For Australia’s food sector, sustainability has become part of doing business.