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Louisiana Blue Crab Fishery Pursues Sustainability Certification

US - The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board representing approximately 3,000 commercial crab fishermen licensed by the state, has entered the Louisiana blue crab fishery into the Marine Stewardship Councils (MSC) certification programme.

While crab is landed from all state waters, more than half of the Louisiana blue crab is harvested primarily from two areas: Lake Pontchartrain basin and Terrebonne basin. The Lake Pontchartrain basin borders New Orleans to the north and east and includes the lake, marshes and sounds to the southeast and the Terrebonne Basin is located southwest of New Orleans.

Impact of the spill will be considered in relation to impact on the sustainability of the stock, however, decisions regarding opening and closing state waters in relation to the spill, and other fisheries management decisions, remain fully the jurisdiction of the state.

The fishery under assessment is blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), caught by trap in the state waters of Louisiana. The fishery is open year round and operates strictly during daylight hours. Harvesters target hard shell blue crabs for the processed meat market and also soft shelled crabs for the peeler market. Louisiana blue crab is sold exclusively in the United States. The annual catch of blue crab in Louisiana has averaged over 40 million pounds in recent years.

Lake Pontchartrain is an estuary located in southeastern Louisiana. It is the second-largest saltwater lake in the United States, after the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and the largest lake in Louisiana. It covers an area of 630 square miles with an average depth of 12 to 14 feet.

The Terrebonne Basin supports about 1,140 square miles of wetlands, grading from fresh marsh inland to brackish and saline marsh near the bays and the Gulf. The southern end of the basin is defined by a series of narrow, low-lying barrier islands separated from the mainland marshes by a series of wide, shallow lakes and bays.

Ewell Smith, Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board says: “While we began taking steps to enter the MSC program long before the Gulf oil spill, the assessment now takes on new urgency and importance.

"Because of the oil spill, there are questions and concerns about the health of this and other fisheries in the Gulf, off the coast of Louisiana, and the assessment process against the Marine Stewardship Council environmental standard will help answers these questions.”

Mr Smith also says “We are working diligently to retain the Louisiana Seafood brand in our markets in the face of the spill, and independent third-party sustainability certification will assist our efforts.”

the Fish Site Editor

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