This milestone certification marks a new page in the history of Atlantic cod in Canada. It signals to the world that collaborative efforts from fisheries, industry, government and NGOs have the power to improve the health of fish stocks while sustaining hope for the communities that rely on fishing for their livelihoods.
To achieve MSC certification the 3Ps cod fishery demonstrated that it meets a high bar of sustainability set by the MSC Fishery Standard. Widely recognized as the world’s most credible and robust standard for sustainable fishing, the MSC Standard is founded on three principles: a healthy fish stock, protection of the surrounding marine ecosystem, and effective fishery management.
“We are proud of the work completed by everyone involved in the journey to achieving MSC certification for 3Ps cod,” says Alberto Wareham, CEO of Icewater Seafoods Ltd, a member of the client group for the MSC certification.
“As the seventh generation of my family working in this fishery, sustainability is important to us. I know it is also important to our customers and we are confident that the MSC certification will provide the assurance that our cod comes from a sustainable and well-managed source. It will also help the fishery remain sustainable through the natural ecosystem variations experienced off our coasts.
A collective effort towards continuous improvement
Many Atlantic Canadian cod fisheries were placed under moratorium in the 1990s as ecosystem changes and fishery management failures caused these once abundant stocks to fall. While cod populations in some areas have been slow to recover, the cod stock in NAFO zone 3Ps has improved*. From 2010 to 2014 this cod stock was the subject of an extensive Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) led by World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF) with participation from Icewater Seafoods, Ocean Choice International (OCI) and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union.
Together with support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada with financial contributions from Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Sustainable Fisheries Fund program of Resources Legacy Fund and High Liner Foods, the joint efforts by all industry stakeholders involved enabled the FIP to make significant strides in preparation for MSC assessment.
Management improvements focused on identifying fishery reference points, the adoption of harvest control rules and studies of fishing gear impacts and bycatch.
Martin Sullivan, CEO of OCI and also a member of the client group for the certification adds: “Currently almost all major species in the OCI portfolio are MSC certified, and we are extremely pleased to add this key species from the local fishery to our engagement in the MSC program. We are keen to see continued recovery of other cod stocks in waters adjacent to Newfoundland and Labrador.”