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Two Combined Gulf of St. Lawrence Shrimp Fisheries Achieve MSC Re-certification

Crustaceans Sustainability Economics +4 more

CANADA - Two Canadian MSC certified fisheries, the Gulf of St. Lawrence (GOSL) northern shrimp and the Gulf of St. Lawrence northern shrimp trawl Esquiman Channel fisheries, have joined in a cooperative effort into one combined shrimp fishery that has earned MSC re-certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery following an independent, third-party assessment by the certification body, Intertek Moody Marine.

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The client group for the combined MSC certified fishery includes member companies of Association Québécoise de l’Industrie de la Pêche (AQIP), L'Association Cooperative des Pecheurs de l'Ile and Produits Belle-Baie Ltée in New Brunswick, and the member companies of the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The four shrimp fishing zones in the Gulf of St. Lawrence covered by the MSC certificate are SFA 8 (Esquiman), SFA 9 (Anticosti), SFA 10 (Sept-iles) and SFA 12 (Estuary). The member companies of ASP offer MSC certified GOSL shrimp from SFA 8 while the other client group members provide shrimp from all four zones.

The cooperative effort distributes costs of the assessment and of maintaining the certificate among the fishery clients of the previously separate certifications. Participating companies in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, and New Brunswick expect to realize additional savings over the five-year life of the second certificate for these fisheries.

The fleet of the combined Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishery consists of 140 vessels. Sustainability and management controls include quota limits for each area and a specialized trawl separator grate that eliminates unwanted bycatch and ensures the harvest does not deplete other stocks.

The initial certification independent assessments included conditions for the fisheries to obtain a study examining the abundance and diversity of marine life living in the benthic sediment and how they may be affected by trawl gear. The re-certification includes a condition to implement improvement actions identified in the study along with the cooperation of Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to ensure limited impact on the benthic biodiversity and on elements of the ecosystem.

“The combined efforts of the member associations and companies involved has improved efficiencies and enabled shared benefits including distribution of cost,” said Jean-Paul Gagné, managing director with Association Québécoise de l'Industrie de la Pêche.

“Our commitment to on-going improvements in the sustainability of the cold water shrimp resource in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will contribute to DFO’s ability to regulate the fishery and industry’s commitment to commercially harvest in a responsible manner confirmed by independent data,” said Serge Haché with L'Association Cooperative des Pecheurs de l'lle.

“The scientific rigor and international confidence in the MSC ecolabel will help us tell our story of sustainability to a global audience.”

Derek Butler, executive director of the Association of Seafood Producers, said: "The MSC certification helps us promote our natural, coldwater shrimp to buyers and markets in Europe and North America. This shrimp fishery has a long history and traditions that form an important backdrop to our initial MSC certification and achieving re-certification enables us to continue telling our proud story, from harvester to producers and right to the market."

Combined re-certification provides new sustainable supply

Jay Lugar, MSC fishery outreach manager in Canada, welcomed the re-certification of the combined shrimp fishery.

“It is encouraging to see one of the longest running MSC certifications in Canada renewed by the shrimp industry based in provinces surrounding the Gulf of St. Lawrence. After vessels of this combined fishery start their annual return to the traditional fishing grounds for shrimp, buyers in Canada, the USA and Europe will have new supply to use from a sustainable and well-managed fishery that meets the MSC global standard.”