Brine shrimp, which are more commonly known as Artemia in the aquaculture industry, are small crustaceans that live in hypersaline lake environments and are a vital part of the lake's ecosystem, serving as a food source for numerous bird species and providing an important source of income for local fishermen.
The MSC fishery certificate is held by the Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, which uses unique gear – such as rakes and containment booms – to harvest the cysts of brine shrimp. They also use spotter planes to identify brine shrimp cyst blooms from above. Brine shrimp cysts are stored and hatched for use as live feed, for example for prawn and marine finfish hatcheries, and are exported to more than 50 countries around the world.
“Sustainability defines our industry in unique ways,” said Timothy Hawkes, vice chair and general counsel for Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, in a press release. “The harvest management system in place on Great Salt Lake—developed in collaboration between industry and the State of Utah—harvests only the excess cysts in the system. That management system sets up the brine shrimp population for the best possible start the following year, which benefits not only the population itself, but the brine shrimp industry and the tens of millions of migratory birds that also rely on the resource. We are grateful to be recognised for our dedication to sustainability with the MSC certification.”
Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere and is home to one of the largest brine shrimp populations in the world. The fishery underwent a thorough eight month assessment by an independent, third-party certifier and was found to meet MSC's criteria for environmentally sustainability fishing practices.
"Great Salt Lake brine shrimp fishery's achievement of MSC certification is a testament to the hard work and dedication of local fishermen, who have been practicing sustainable fishing for generations," said Nicole Condon, MSC US program director. “By earning this certification, the fishery is demonstrating their commitment to the long-term health of the lake's ecosystem and the communities that depend on it."