US Atlantic Spiny Dogfish Fishery Seeks Certification

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
4 August 2010, at 1:00am

US - The United States Atlantic fishery for spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthius) today entered full assessment in the Marine Stewardship Councils (MSC) certification programme for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The fishery, which operates in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone of the Atlantic Ocean, will be assessed by an independent certifier against the MSC standard for sustainable fishing. If successful, products from this fishery will be eligible to bear the blue MSC ecolabel.

This fishery includes the harvest of spiny dogfish in federal waters and the waters of seven states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina) using three gear types including gillnet, longline, and otter trawl.

The spiny dogfish fishery operates most months of the year, and over a wide area with the distribution of landings varying by area and season. In 2008, landings were 2,239 metric tons and the primary commercial market is for skinless trunks in the European Union.

The client for the assessment is the U.S. North Atlantic Spiny Dogfish Association which consists of three companies: Seatrade International Company Inc., Zeus Packing Inc., and Marder Trawling Inc. The client group welcomes other companies within the Unit of Certification to join in its effort to earn MSC certification for this fishery.

Stephen Barndollar, speaking for the U.S. North Atlantic Spiny Dogfish Association says, “I am hopeful we will achieve MSC certification and by doing so we will be able to demonstrate to our customers in Europe that the U.S. Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery is sustainable and well-managed. We know it is important to our customers that the spiny dogfish resource is well protected and we are pleased to be able to enter the best regarded process for demonstrating the fishery’s practices meet a global standard.”

“Because spiny dogfish is long-lived and slower to reproduce than many species, it can be especially vulnerable to overfishing,” said Kerry Coughlin, the Americas regional director for the MSC. “The assessment will show whether the conservation measures that have been taken fulfill the MSC standard and we welcome this fishery into the process. Products derived from spiny dogfish are popular in Europe, where there is increased demand for MSC-certified products.”

The client group contracted with Moody Marine Ltd. to conduct the independent, third-party assessment, which is expected to take approximately 12 to 15 months. A team of scientific experts will be convened to evaluate the fishery based on the three Principles of the MSC standard: the sustainability of the fish stock, its impact on the environment and the management system in place.