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NZ Albacore Fisheries Apply For MSC

Five New Zealand fisheries are opening their books to environmental assessors this week to be judged if they fish sustainably.

In the year-long process, the Marine Stewardship Council assessors will consider all aspects of the ling, hake, albacore tuna, southern blue whiting and Challenger scallop fisheries.

It will cost each fishery about $120,000 to try to qualify for council certification.

But with several large United States and European supermarket chains pledging to promote and only buy seafood from certified sources, the council’s blue-tick is becoming vital for exporters.

Talley’s Nelson chief executive, Tony Hazlett, said the eco-label has become a “passport to business”. For example, New Zealand scallop exports to France had fallen in recent years because of competition from a council-certified Argentine product, he said.

“We have a large French retailer saying that if our scallop fishery is MSC certified, they will stock its product.”

Deepwater Group chief executive George Clement said no marketers would refuse the council eco-label. Hoki’s 2001 certification helped fishery managers improve procedures and benefited sales by creating better opportunities, he said.

The council was created in 1996 by the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever.