Turtle advocacy group criticizes eco-friendly fishing accreditation

05/16/11 Nolan Ruark
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A Florida fishery is set to receive certification that it is eco-friendly despite claims that it causes harm to the state’s turtle and big game fish populations.

Commercial swordfish fishermen want their work to be certified sustainable. To that end, the assessment stage in receiving an eco-friendly label is nearing completion for Day Boat Seafood. But, Marine biologist and campaigner for the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, Christopher Pincetich says that the fishery’s methods are far from sustainable.

"Longline fishing is extremely destructive to endangered sea turtles, accidentally capturing and killing many during normal practices. The normal rate of capture and kill is forty percent for unwanted species in the long line fishery, meaning that four of every six fish or sea turtles and marine mammals are just tossed overboard dead, this is not a sustainable fishery."

The Marine Stewardship Council’s eco-friendly label is issued to fisheries. The label is meant to be an indicator of sustainability and environmental consciousness, but some like Pincetich have their doubts.

"There has been a lot of discussion recently that the values of MSC are degrading; that the process is more of a corporate driven marketing campaign than an actual valid assessment of fisheries and environmental impact, and it's undermining the reputation of MSC around the globe."

Scott Taylor is a co-founder of Dayboat Seafood; he says that the Sea Turtle Restoration Project’s accusations are false.

"The US swordfish fleet that is participating with practices needs and deserves this certification because it is the most environmentally friendly fishery and we intend through our partnership to award them financially for a financially sound practice."

A spokesperson from the Southeast US North Atlantic Swordfish Fishery was not available for comment by deadline. The Marine Resources Assessment Group is the certifying body that will give the fishery the accreditation. Graham Parks is vice president of their Americas branch.

"There's a series of performance indicators, and we assess the fishery relative to those performance indicators and depending on how it scores in our view based on the evidence that we're able to consider and collect. Then we would provide a scoring for each of the performance indicators and then that scoring contributes to the overall scoring of the fishery and whether or not it is regarded as having met the standard."

Previous WMNF news coverage of Florida fisheries

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