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Yellowtail Flounder Fishery Deemed Sustainable

CANADA - The Ocean Choice International (OCI) Grand Bank yellowtail flounder (Limanda ferruginea) trawl fishery has earned Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, having been independently assessed by an accredited certifier and found to meet the MSC standard for sustainably managed fisheries.

The final assessment report against the MSC global standard cited several strengths of the fishery, including: a comprehensive monitoring and surveillance system; considerable data about the stock; security of access that provides a strong economic incentive to manage for the long term; a management strategy and gear to ensure by-catch is minimised; and, an effective management strategy concerning wolffish, an ETP (endangered, threatened, protected) species.

The final assessment report also identified some weaknesses. As a result of the open, transparent process required by the Marine Stewardship Council, a total of nine improvement actions, or conditions, are attached to the certification that address the weaknesses identified. Improvements are tracked during mandatory annual surveillance audits and the audits are published on the MSC website.

The improvements required as part of certification include: the development of well-defined harvest control rules; the provision of information adequate to better understand the functions of the key elements of the ecosystem; and improvements in the stakeholder consultation process.

This demersal trawl fishery is located in the North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) areas 3L, 3N and 3O on the Grand Banks near Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. Stock assessments and overall management objectives for this fishery are established by NAFO and the fishery is regulated by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans. DFO establishes quota allocations and technical regulations, contained primarily in the groundfish fishing license and the fishery’s conservation and harvesting plan. Technical regulations include mesh sizes, Vessel Monitoring System, observer requirements, dockside monitoring requirements, bycatch and discard regulations and other measures.

The annual quota established by NAFO was 17,000 metric tonnes in 2009 and 2010, and the Canadian allocation is 97.5 per cent. OCI is the holder of the largest allocation of the Canadian Total Allowable Catch (TAC) with 91.4 per cent. The remaining 8.6 per cent is held by five other companies. OCI is the client group for the assessment process and the eligibility to display the MSC ecolabel extends only to OCI at this time. OCI acknowledges that the other participants in the yellowtail fishery may have an interest in gaining access to the MSC Certificate and are prepared to facilitate a certificate sharing arrangement.

“We are delighted to add yellowtail flounder to our growing portfolio of MSC certified fisheries, joining northern shrimp and North Atlantic sea scallops,” said Blaine Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of OCI. “It is important for OCI to take the lead in being responsible stewards of our oceans and marine environment. MSC certification for this fishery, in particular, which we harvest with our own fleet and for which we control such a significant percentage of the quota, clearly demonstrates our commitment to the future of our fishery,” said Mr Sullivan.

the Fish Site Editor

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