After discussions with MSC, ASBTIA applied for MSC and completed the pre-assessment (ACDR) for SBT caught in the Great Australian Bight (GAB) for farming. An approved CAB, Marine Resources and Assessment Group (MRAG) completed the ACDR (attached) and identified three possible challenges to certification. First was that the MSC Standard requires the product to be “landed.” This was resolved because SBT caught for farming is officially deemed “landed” by AFMA and CCSBT. Second was the SBT listing under the EPBC Act 1999 – the same problem faced by Orange Roughy East (ORE). ASBTIA has applied to the Australian Minister for Environment for SBT to be delisted in 2021.
Another major problem is that the MSC Standard requires the SBT stock to be “at least an 80% probability that the true status of the stock is higher than the point at which there is an appreciable risk of recruitment being impaired” (MSC Standard SA220.127.116.11 and SA18.104.22.168). The Standard notes that: “Where proxy indicators and reference points are used to score Principle 1 (Pl 1.1.1), the team shall justify their use as reasonable proxies of stock biomass for the PRI and/or MSY.” The Standard also notes that “The recent trends in fishing mortality rate may be used as a means of scoring stock status.” (SA2.2.4). Currently the CCSBT MP is tuned to a 70% probability of rebuilding the stock to the interim rebuilding target reference point of 20% of the original spawning stock biomass by 2035, which does not meet the MSC Standards.
As soon as this problem was identified by MRAG in the ACDR – ASBTIA had detailed discussions with AWE and CSIRO on how this barrier could be overcome. The view that SBT could not pass the MSC Principle 1 without this being resolved was then supported by the ISSF analysis in February 2021 (see www.iss-foundation.org) CSIRO noted that the problem could be addressed by a project – but that it required use of data and analysis which evolved from the meetings of the CCSBT Extended Scientific Committee (ESC) but were not published or used in the ESC annual Reports (see www.ccsbt.org)