Aquaculture for all

First Atlantic Halibut Fishery Achieves MSC Certification

Sustainability Halibut Marketing +7 more

CANADA - The Canadian Atlantic halibut fishery, located off the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification following an independent, third-party assessment against the global MSC standard conducted by SCS Global Services.

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The client is the Atlantic Halibut Council representing the main associations of commercial halibut harvesters in eastern Canada. This certification represents the first Atlantic halibut fishery to be certified to the MSC global standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The Atlantic Halibut Council consists of a significant portion of processors and harvesters in the provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. All Atlantic halibut caught by Canadian harvesters using demersal long lines, demersal trawls and gill nets in Northwest Atlantic Fishing Organization (NAFO) fishing zones 3NOPs, 4VWX and 5Zc in Atlantic Ocean waters are included in the MSC certificate. Harvesters and processors of Atlantic halibut in these areas that are not currently members of the Atlantic Halibut Council are able to join the organization to share in the MSC certificate. Companies that handle the products from the fishery have the opportunity to become MSC Chain of Custody certified to sell products carrying the MSC ecolabel into the marketplace.

The Atlantic halibut fishery is managed by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans with a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 2,200 metric tonnes in the quota year ending March 31, 2013 in the zones covered by the MSC certificate. The fishery is managed as part of the overall groundfish fishery in the area and includes catches of Atlantic halibut landed from directed fishing trips as well as bycatch when directing for other species. The primary market for Atlantic halibut is in Canada, the United States and the European Union in both fresh and frozen products.

Cooperative efforts to attain achievement

Bruce Chapman, executive director of the Atlantic Halibut Council, says: “Our great efforts to rebuild this resource over the past 10-15 years and strict management by DFO has been rewarded by our achievement of MSC certification for our fishery. We take pride in the cooperative effort the Atlantic Halibut Council and DFO take every year to monitor our fishery, deliver information and assess data to ensure we are cautiously managing our fishery. With significant increases in the fishery over recent years in a challenging and changing natural environment we feel MSC certification has confirmed our ability to use our knowledge to sustain our fishery for the future.”

Demonstrated sustainability for this and future generations

"We congratulate the Atlantic Halibut Council and their collaborative efforts to achieve certification against the global, science-based MSC standard,” said Kerry Coughlin, the Americas regional director for the MSC.

“Halibut is prime whitefish with high demand in North American east coast and global markets and this certification demonstrates to retail and restaurant customers that halibut landed by the Canadian Atlantic halibut fishery are harvested in a well-managed and sustainable manner to preserve the stock for this and future generations.”

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