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).
Since then, a fourth fishing company has joined the initiative and the RFA has established itself as a respected advocate for responsible fisheries practices. Some of the RFA’s achievements include:
- The training of over 1400 fishers in responsible fisheries practices. Training has been augmented by the display of 600 posters on fishing vessels.
- The completion of 23 projects and activities aimed at improving fisheries management.
- 30 vessels have adopted seabird management plans.
- There has been a >90% reduction in seabird mortalities caused by interactions with trawl gear. This is as a result of the consistent deployment of bird scaring lines on deep-sea trawlers.
- Ten bycatch species caught in the inshore trawl fishery, and 12 bycatch species landed in the offshore trawl fishery, are now under management
The ring-fence initiative
As a member of the South African Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA), the Viking Fishing division has been involved in a voluntary initiative to only trawl on currently used grounds, prevent damage to lightly trawled areas, and 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.
Mitigating interactions between seabirds and trawl gear
Like other members of SADSTIA, the Viking Fishing Division 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.