World's Largest Wild Scallop Fishery Enters MSC Assessment

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
16 March 2010, at 12:00am

US - The US Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) dredge fishery operating in the exclusive economic zone of the United States of America offshore from Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina is entering full assessment in the Marine Stewardship Councils (MSC) certification programme for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The fishery will be assessed against the MSC Standard and, if successful, its products will be eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel recognising products from well-managed and sustainable sources.

According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, 2008 scallop landings were 24,280 metric tonnes (53.5 million lbs.) making the US Atlantic sea scallop fishery the world’s largest scallop fishery by market value. The commercial fishery is conducted year round, primarily using New Bedford style scallop dredges. The scallops are shucked on board and their main markets are the US and member states of the European Union.

Acting under the legislation and policy directives of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) is responsible for management of the fishery in cooperation with the Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC). Individual members of the American Scallop Association – Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Seatrade International, Eastern Fisheries, Oceans Alive Seafood, Raw Seafood, Northern Wind, Marlees, American Seafood, Marder Trawling, Hygrade Ocean Products and Chesapeake Bay Packing – are the clients for this assessment.

“Operating sustainably and seeking MSC certification is the right thing to do not only for us, but certainly for the people behind us who will run our companies in the future,” said Ross Paasche, president of the American Scallop Association. “Down the road it will be the minimum threshold for global buyers, products will need a mark of some sort and we clearly see the MSC as the authority when it comes to certification as a sustainable fishery.”

“The MSC is pleased to see this significant fishery moving forward with full assessment,” said MSC Americas Regional Director Kerry Coughlin. “If they are successful, MSC certification will provide the Atlantic scallop fishery with an internationally recognised method to demonstrate to their buyers, and consumers of this popular seafood, that they have made a meaningful and long-term commitment to seafood sustainability.”

The American Scallop Association has contracted with MSC-accredited certification company Moody Marine Ltd. to conduct the independent, third-party assessment which is expected to take approximately 12 months to complete. Moody Marine will convene a team of scientific experts to evaluate the fishery based on the three core principles of the MSC’s standard: the sustainability of the fish stock, its impact on the environment and the management system in place.