South Africa’s hake trawl fishery supports around 27,000 jobs Photo: MSCSouth Africa’s hake trawl fishery supports around 27,000 jobs Photo: MSC

South Africa’s hake trawl fishery is celebrating 16 years of Marine Stewardship Council certification following the announcement of its fourth successful assessment on 12th February 2021.

Trawled hake is South Africa’s most valuable commercial fishery, with a catch of approximately 120,000 tonnes per year of which two thirds is exported. The total annual socio-economic contribution of the industry is R6.7bn (US$457m) and it supports around 27,000 jobs.

Felix Ratheb, chair of the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association and chief executive of Sea Harvest, said that MSC certification was vital to the success of the fishery.

“The fact that the South African hake trawl fishery has retained this prestigious certification for 16 years speaks to an enduring partnership between industry and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, the industry regulator and academic institutions like the University of Cape Town,” he said.

In 2004 the fishery became the first hake fishery in the world, and the second groundfish fishery, to meet the MSC standard for sustainable fishing. Since then the fishery has seen several environmental benefits including the rebuilding of stocks, reductions in seabird interactions, improved management of by-catches and greater understanding of benthic impacts.

The certification sets out a series of goals for the fishery to meet in the next five years. “Because it is sustainably-managed, the hake trawl fishery will continue to deliver benefits to the people of South Africa for generations to come,” concluded Mr Ratheb.

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