Saving seabirds: the South African hake trawl fishery achieves re-certification with Marine Stewardship Council

The South African trawl fishery for hake Merluccius spp. has been re-certified after an initial five-year certification period by the Marine Stewardship Council.  Since initial MSC certification in 2004 significant progress has been made in addressing many of the impacts of the fishery as a consequence of certification requirements.


A significant reduction in the impact of trawling on seabirds has been achieved by making the deployment of bird-scaring (tori) lines) a part of permit conditions - reported to have reduced seabird mortality by some 90% since 2004.  MSC certification has also led to more observers being deployed on trips out to sea.  Click here for more news of the re-certification.

ACAP-listed species most at risk in South African waters from trawl fishery activities are Shy Thalassarche cauta and Black-browed T. melanophris Albatrosses and White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis.  Entanglement with trawl warps and subsequent drowning was the major cause of mortality in a 2004/05 study (Watkins et al. 2008).


For an assessment of the risks to seabirds in South African waters from both trawl and longline fisheries click here.




Watkins, B.P. Petersen, S.L. & Ryan, P.G. 2008.  Interactions between seabirds and deep-water hake trawl gear: an assessment of impacts in South African waters.  Animal Conservation 11: 247-254.


John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 2 April 2010

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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