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Canadian Lobster Fishery Enters MSC Assessment

Crustaceans Sustainability Economics +4 more

CANADA - The Prince Edward Island (PEI) lobster fishery, located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, has entered into independent, third-party assessment against the global, science-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification program.

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The fishery client includes the PEI Fishermen’s Association, the PEI Seafood Producers Association, the Abegweit First Nation and the Lennox Island First Nation. The conformance assessment body, SAI Global, will conduct the assessment against the global MSC standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The PEI lobster fishery operates baited traps to catch American lobster (homarus americanus). The fishery applies limited season openings, minimum species sizes, escape mechanism and biodegradable twine in traps and other measures to ensure the stock is able to maintain productivity. Lobster from the fishery is landed live for shipping to global markets and for processing into cooked lobster products. The main export markets for lobster are in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Lobster landings from over 1200 harvesters account for two-thirds to three-quarters of the value of the overall fishery on Prince Edward Island, providing as many as 3,000 processing jobs and contributing significantly to the province’s economy which the provincial Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development stated was approximately C$278 million from the overall seafood industry in 2011.

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages the lobster fishery in PEI under three Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) within the Northwest Atlantic Canadian Lobster Stock Complex: LFAs 24, 25 and 26A. Seasonal rotations are employed to spread harvesting effort in the region.

The LFAs 24 and 26A are open in May and June, while LFA 25 is a summer fishery open from mid-August to Mid-October. LFAs 25 and 26A are shared with harvesters in the neighbouring provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Catches by all harvesters in LFAs 24, 25 and 26A in 2012 were approximately 7,100 tonnes, 4,900 tonnes and 4,800 tonnes, respectively. The portion of these landings by harvesters based in Prince Edward Island is approximately 12,000 tonnes.

“The Prince Edward Island harvesting and processing sectors are proud of their conservation, resource management and product processing regimes and look forward to being assessed against the MSC global standard,” said Ian MacPherson, executive director of the PEI Fishermen's Association.

“This effort represents a unique collaboration between harvesters, processors and the First Nations groups.”

Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas Regional Director, said: “We commend the Prince Edward Island lobster fishery on their commitment to sustainability and initiation of assessment against the global, science-based MSC certification standard and welcome this fishery into the MSC program.”