A conservation group will team up with the Marine Stewardship Council to promote sustainable fisheries in the city by introducing a certification programme. The WWF and the council will promote sustainable fisheries by introducing an information guide on 60 species, which will be available in the city next year. The council, an independent, non-profit organisation, promotes sustainable fisheries by using an eco-label to identify seafood products certified to its environmental standard. Under the scheme, fisheries can approach an independent certifier to be tested. 'If they meet our standards then they use our label. That label says the product has come from a sustainable, environmentally managed fishery,' said Duncan Leadbitter, the council's regional director for Asia-Pacific. Since 2000, when the council was set up, 19 fisheries worldwide producing 3.9 million tonnes of fish, or 5 per cent of global output, have been certified as sustainable. WWF conservation director Andy Cornish said the city's eco-system was close to collapse and the local fishing industry was not well managed. 'Most of the fishermen in Hong Kong use bottom trawling,' he said. 'It destroys living habitats and corals in the seabed which are food for the fish that we eat. We would like to see an end to bottom trawling.' He said overfishing in Hong Kong waters and the South China Sea was very serious. Although Hong Kong was a small market, it imported a lot of seafood from other Asian markets where overfishing was also serious. 'We hope we can change the local fisheries with market pressure. We will also encourage the seafood industry to use our guide, and import products from sustainable fisheries,' he said. He said consumers could help control overfishing by requesting that their fish be certified. 'Consumers have a role in determining what they eat,' the Australia-based expert, who left the city on Saturday, said. Tommy Hui Hon-man, chairman of the Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Freshwater Fish Wholesale Association, welcomed the scheme. 'It is good that a green group is taking the initiative. Most fishermen in Hong Kong only care about making profits, as rental, labour and fuel costs are high,' he said. 'Though it will take some time to change their mentality and learn the advantages of sustainable fishing, it is worth doing. Otherwise, the industry will die soon, as there are not many fish left in the sea.'