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North Atlantic Swordfish Pelagic Longline, Handgear Buoy Line Fishery Certified MSC

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US - Day Boat Seafood, based in Lake Park, Florida, has received Marine Stewardship Council certification for the US North Atlantic swordfish pelagic longline and handgear buoy line fishery as a sustainable and well-managed fishery, following an independent, third-party assessment against the MSC standard conducted by MRAG Americas.

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This Unit of Certification includes the US harvest of North Atlantic broadbill swordfish (Xiphias gladius) off the US east coast, including the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) statistical areas off the Florida east coast, the South and Mid-Atlantic, Sargasso Sea, Northeast Coastal, North East Distant and North Central Atlantic. Not included in the assessment were the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. In December, 2011, Day Boat Seafood was awarded MSC certification for the Southeast US North Atlantic swordfish and that unit of certification will now be included in this certification, since it is in the NMFS statistical areas.

The fishery operates year round with some seasonal variation in an area off the Florida east coast. It is managed by the US Federal Government under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and in conformance with ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) management requirements. In addition, other US federal laws and regulations under the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) apply to the fishery, including on endangered species.

The 2010 US harvest was approximately 2,700 metric tonnes, which is below the Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Over the last decade, harvest levels allowed by ICCAT have remained below the allowable quota and that has enabled the stock to rebuild; in 2009, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared the stock rebuilt.

The client group is Day Boat Seafood and its associated vessels and fishermen, but the certification covers all longline and buoy gear fishing in the NMFS statistical areas. As a result, all US licensed fisherman using longline and buoy gear in the area are eligible to share in the certification, subject to signing a sharing agreement with the client group.

Debbie Lewis, Director of Compliance and Sustainability for Day Boat Seafood LLC said: “We are proud to expand our MSC certification of the Southeast US N. Atlantic Swordfish Long Line and Handgear Fishery to the South and Mid-Atlantic, Sargasso Sea, Northeast Coastal, North East Distant and North Central Atlantic NMFS statistical areas. Our fishermen have proven over the past year that the rigorous conditions addressing the issues raised by stakeholders, peer review scientists and the certification team during our certification process have been foremost in our fishing operations. This certification provides all pelagic longline and hand-gear fishermen of the North Atlantic the opportunity to join our commitment to the MSC process and our mission to provide sustainable products that will assure the preservation of this fishery for future generations.”

“We congratulate Day Boat Seafood for its continued leadership and commitment to sustainable fishing, the people and communities that rely on commercial fishing and the MSC programme,” said Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas Regional Director.

“With this certification it is possible for every US commercial longline and buoy gear swordfish fishermen to be part of a MSC certified fishery and confirm to buyers around the world that swordfish harvested from this fishery are, indeed, caught sustainably.”