Our fishery in South Georgia is located around the island and the plateau to the west, known as Shag Rocks. It was first MSC certified in 2004, and has been re-certified twice since.
The South Georgia fishery only uses bottom-set longlines and undertakes several measures to reduce bird mortality. For example, vessels fish only in winter (May to August) when birds are not breeding and are under less pressure to feed. In addition, bait is defrosted and lines are weighted to ensure they sink quickly; and bird-scaring lines are used to keep them away from the hooks.
These measures have been very successful – bird deaths have been reduced to very low levels, as Dr Ben Sullivan, Coordinator at BirdLife Global Seabird Programme recognises:
“This fishery operates among huge colonies of breeding albatrosses and petrels which are highly vulnerable to bycatch, so the reduction of seabird mortality to low levels has been a major achievement. It is a credit to the operators and managers of the fishery – and the incentive provided by MSC certification is critical to replicating this success.”