On 20 October, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) launched its consultation period to review its 10 year old methodology for assessing the sustainability of wild-capture fisheries. The closing date for responses is Monday 1 December 2014. The MCS is a charity body whose work in providing information, campaigning and advocacy is focussed on the protection of the UK’s seas, shores and wildlife.
The consultation is being held in light of recent changes in advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) on stock assessments and fisheries management. The proposed changes by the MCS are aimed at ensuring the methodology, based on nominal “score ratings”, remains current and fit for purpose in “identifying sustainable seafood” for buyers and consumers. Among the seven proposed changes are:
- slight modification to the range and overall rating scores so that each of the 4 “Fish to eat” categories of species or fishery are equally separated by increments of 2.5;
- integrating “Certification” to the “Management” criterion resulting in 4 instead of 5 fisheries evaluation criteria;
- decreased weighting for inherent vulnerability but increased weighting for management and capture method;
- separation of stock status into Stock Biomass and Fishing Mortality;
- expanding the Management criteria descriptors to improve transparency, incorporate new ICES language, and reduce possibilities for misinterpretation, among others.
The consultation document is available here and the responses questionnaire is available here. Comments and contributions are also being invited for the current Appendices tables concerning management and mitigation measures for fishing gear impacts.