The Responsible Fisheries Alliance
In 2009, Viking Fishing and three other prominent South African fishing companies joined forces with the global conservation organisation, WWF, to form the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA).
The broad objective of the RFA is to provide a platform for the fishing companies to support the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) management in South Africa. However, in reality the RFA provides a mechanism for the companies to work with WWF on a range of projects, all of which have responsible and sustainable fisheries management as their objective. For example, with funding and support from the RFA, WWF has developed and rolled out a responsible fisheries training course to at least 1 200 fishers, as well as fisheries inspectors and observers.
The course runs over two days and includes four modules which cover subjects such as the ecosystem approach to fisheries management, food webs, habitat impacts, bycatch, monitoring and enforcement. The two days are very interactive, full of discussion and practical exercises and there is a strong emphasis on responsible behavior, such as caring for the marine environment and eliminating littering.
So successful has the responsible fisheries training been that it is now regularly presented to fisheries inspectors, observers and fishing crews in neighbouring Namibia and there are plans to adapt the course for the Angolan fishing industry.
The ring-fence intiative
As a member of the South African Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA), Viking Fishing has been involved in a voluntary initiative to only trawl on currently used grounds, prevent damage to lightly trawled areas, and to preserve natural refuges for hake. This is SADSTIA’s ring-fence initiative.
The ring fenced area represents approximately 4.4 percent of South Africa’s territorial waters. Trawling outside the ring fenced zone requires the completion of an environmental impact assessment.
The ring fencing initiative has been systematically implemented by SADSTIA. A brochure and navigational software was circulated to the entire trawling industry. The software is compatible with the plotting system used by skippers to track their trawling activities. As such, it is possible for each skipper to quickly and easily identify the boundaries of the trawl grounds, outside of which trawling is prohibited.
Mitigating interactions between seabirds and trawl gear
Like other members of SADSTIA, Viking Fishing complies with an exacting suite of regulations aimed at reducing the interactions between seabirds and trawl gear. These regulations include the mandatory deployment of bird scaring (or tori) lines at the start of every trawl; a standard for coating trawl cables with lubricants; a requirement to trim cable joins; a ban on releasing offal during winching; and the development of individual bird management plans.
These measures have been so successful in South Africa, that the incidence of albatrosses killed or injured by trawl gear has dropped by an estimated 99% since 2006.