The Russian Far East (RFE) whitefish fishery improvement projects and initiatives are industry-led. Consequently, the SR confines its activities to tracking and monitoring the fisheries and FIPs (and the long-standing need for improvements in RFE whitefish fisheries - see below) and to providing advice to the market as required.
RFE whitefish fisheries target a number of species. The total annual catch of RFE whitefish is over 2 million metric tons, with pollock representing 75 percent (about 1.5 million metric tons) of the total. Market analysis indicates that most pollock and other whitefish caught in the Russian Far East is exported to China and Korea and then on to other countries, including the United States and the European Union. Fish products exported from Russia are mainly frozen, headed, and headed-and-gutted.
In September 2013, a pollock fishery operated by the RFE Pollock Catchers Association (PCA) in the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk (SoO) was certified as sustainable in accordance with criteria of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
In 2013, the RFE Longline Fishing Association (LFA) established a fishery improvement project (FIP) for longline fishing of Pacific cod and Pacific halibut.
Much of the whitefish sector has made vast improvements in sustainability over the last decade and nearly 60 percent of global supply in wild caught whitefish is categorized as sustainable or improving.
The Russian Far East Whitefish SR focuses on monitoring sustainability status and performance of whitefish fisheries in the region. Much of this production is already sustainable or improving; their role is to shift volume from the improving to the sustainable category, and to ensure no production is removed from these categories.
Fisheries and/or FIPs covered:
At present, the roundtable focuses on a number of large-scale fisheries for pollock, Pacific cod, and Pacific halibut.
The following FIP is supported and monitored (Note – MSC-certified fisheries are also monitored.):
(Note: This project entered MSC full assessment in April 2018.)
For more details on the sustainability status of the fisheries, please follow this link.
The RFE Whitefish Supply Chain Roundtable (SR) objectives are focused on monitoring sustainability status and issues of RFE whitefish stocks, and on discussing actions required to engage the supply chain in the work on fisheries improvements, in order to ensure long-term availability of RFE whitefish in domestic and international markets.
The RFE Whitefish SR recognizes the improvements to fisheries management made over recent years. However, while Sea of Okhotsk pollock is MSC-certified, and the LFA RFE Longline Pacific Cod and Pacific Halibut FIP is making progress, a number of long-standing issues have not yet been fully or even partially addressed, including:
- Processes for access to and disclosure of stock assessment data and total allowable catch (TAC) setting remain opaque and exclusive. In fact, recent media reports suggest a degradation of TAC stakeholder engagement in TAC setting.
- The status of the West Bering (WB)/Navarinsky Sea pollock stock causes concern, but sourcing robust data continues to be a challenge.
Consequently, in light of the long-standing nature of these improvement needs, the roundtable will confine its activities to tracking and monitoring the fisheries and FIPs, as well as providing advice to the market as required. Until these issues have progressed, the following procurement policies are recommended:
- For pollock, only source from the SoO pollock MSC-certified fishery.
- On an opportunistic basis, emphasize to existing and potential suppliers the requirement for data transparency/disclosure in publicly recognized FIPs.
Progress Update: The SR's progress updates can be followed here.
Project Contact: If you would like more information about the Supplier Roundtable, please contact SFP.