Orange Roughy Certification

7 October 2021

Deepwater Group (DWG) is pleased to announce the independent reassessment of three orange roughy fisheries for certification against version 2.0 of the Marine Stewardship Council’s Fisheries Standard will soon commence.

These three New Zealand orange roughy fisheries, which are New Zealand’s largest, represent 73% of New Zealand’s orange roughy harvest and were independently certified against the robust science-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard in 2016.

Assessments against the MSC Fisheries Standard are made by independently accredited certification bodies, whose auditors have expertise in fisheries science, fisheries impact on ecosystems, and fisheries governance, score each fisheries’ performance against 28 indicators across three principles: 
1.    Sustainable Fish Stocks: The orange roughy fish stocks are sustainable, and that fishing is at a level that ensures it can continue indefinitely and the fish population can remain productive and healthy.
2.    Healthy Marine Ecosystems: The orange roughy fisheries are managed carefully so that other species and habitats within the ecosystem remain healthy and productive.
3.    Fisheries Management: The orange roughy fisheries are subject to ongoing effective management and compliant with relevant laws and are able to adapt to changing environmental circumstances.

The assessment process is comprehensive, rigorous and is evidence-based with all determinations based on scientific and technical evidence.

MSC assessments are public, and the findings are open to challenge. Several of the assessments for New Zealand fisheries, including orange roughy, have been challenged, including by international conservation organisations such as WWF. All objections are given careful consideration by the independent auditors and then by an Independent Adjudicator.

“That is as it should be. We believe that, if our fisheries cannot withstand detailed scrutiny, then we don’t deserve certification – how else can our customers have confidence that these fisheries are indeed sustainable?” says George Clement.

“The certification of our fisheries is not completed by the Deepwater Group alone, they are achieved in partnership with Fisheries New Zealand, who along with DWG, has invested heavily over the past 20+ years to rebuild the orange roughy fisheries through robust science, and the adoption of new scientific techniques to measure and assess stock sizes, and conservative harvest levels.”

“MSC certification is not easy to achieve, it is hard-won,” says George Clement. “MSC holds the gold standard for science-based eco-labels in fisheries management and MSC is the internationally recognised standard for sustainable seafood.”

Should the three orange roughy fisheries be certified sustainable, they will join 16 other New Zealand hake, hoki, ling, and southern blue whiting fisheries which are certified sustainable against the MSC science-based eco-label programme without any conditions of certification.

“Not only does MSC certification provide reassurance to our consumers in New Zealand and globally that our fisheries operate to the very highest standards of environmentally sustainable management,” says George Clement. “These independent assessments demonstrate that New Zealand’s ecosystem approach in the management of these deepwater fisheries ranks amongst the top five per cent of the best-managed fisheries in the world.