MSC Certification For Eastern Canada Lobster Fishery

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
3 June 2010, at 1:00am

CANADA - The Eastern Canada offshore lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery operating within the Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the eastern seaboard of Canada has earned Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification having been independently assessed and found to be sustainable and well-managed.

Products from the Eastern Canada offshore lobster fishery will now be eligible to bear the blue MSC ecolabel.

The offshore lobsters are landed live and sold either into the live or value-added market. Value added products from the fishery include raw frozen lobster in shell or meat. Approximately 95 per cent of the landed catch is exported, about 75 per cent of which is sold into the United States with other markets being Europe and Japan.

The client for the certification, Clearwater Seafoods Limited Partnership (CSLP), holds all eight licenses for the year-round fishery which dates back to 1971. Clearwater uses two vessels to fish the 720 metric ton annual quota. The lobster quota has been maintained at that level since 1985 and research shows the status of the resource is unchanged with a high proportion of large mature females in the size distribution to maintain reproductive potential.

“Clearwater Seafoods is committed to sustainable fisheries and we are proud to now have this third-party verification of the MSC’s rigorous standard as a way to demonstrate to our customers the sustainability of this fishery, which we feel is among the best managed lobster fisheries in the world,” said Ian Smith, CEO of Clearwater Seafoods Limited Partnership.

“The MSC congratulates Clearwater and the Eastern Canada offshore lobster fishery for meeting the MSC’s standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries,” said Kerry Coughlin, regional director for MSC Americas.

“Lobster is a highly prized seafood and it’s great to see an increasing number of certified sustainable lobster choices.”

The fishing takes place in Lobster Fishing Area 41, which extends from the International Court of Justice (IJC/Hague) line on Georges Bank to the Laurentian Channel off Cape Breton and outside of the offshore boundary line extending 50 miles out from the coast. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) manages the fishery using enterprise allocation (EA), annual TAC and minimum carapace length which are established in the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan.

Moody Marine Ltd. was the certifier for this assessment. During the assessments, the three principles of the MSC standard were evaluated in detail: the status of the fish stock, the impact of the fishery on the marine ecosystem and the management system overseeing the fishery. As with all MSC-certified fisheries, the Eastern Canada offshore lobster fishery will undergo annual surveillance audits.