Certifier : 
MRAG Americas, Inc.
Certified status : 
Certified
Certified since : 
20 May 2010
Certificate expires : 
29 Oct 2020

About

In the 1970s, many flatfish stocks in the Bering Sea had collapsed or becoming depleted following overfishing by foreign vessels in the 1950s and 1960s. But careful management since has seen flatfish make a spectacular recovery, and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands flatfish fishery has become a model of sustainable fishing.

Conservative management has increased flatfish biomass to unprecedented levels: in recent years, the actual catch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of 200,000-250,000 tonnes has been just 20-25 per cent of the annual catch limits established by scientists.

There are strict quotas in place for the various flatfish species the fishery targets (yellowfin, flathead and northern rock sole, Alaska plaice, arrowhead and Kamchatka flounder) as well as bycatch species such as crab and halibut. Fishing cooperatives have been formed, and the quotas are allocated between them, enabling individual vessels to make the most of their time at sea while preventing overharvesting.

In 2011, the fishery introduced new gear that uses bobbins or spindles to raise the trawl net off the seafloor. This has reduced contact with the seafloor by 90 per cent, helping reducing the impact on seabed habitats and non-target species such as crab.  

"You can see and you can feel when you talk to people and they say, 'Yeah, we are certified and sustainable,' that it means something to the crew and the guys who are running the boats and the office" - Bill Orr, president of the Alaska Seafood Cooperative and CEO of Iquique US, a member company