Confirming it is well managed and environmentally sustainable, the Bay of Fundy, Scotian Shelf and Southern Gulf of St Lawrence lobster trap fishery recently achieved certification to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard.
Following independent assessment conducted by independent certifier SAI Global, lobsters sourced from this fishery are now eligible to bear the blue MSC eco-label. The award also means almost all of Atlantic Canada’s lobster stock is now certified to the standard.
The client group for the fishery, the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Lobster Eco-Certification Society, was formed by a collective of interested parties including harvesters, dealers/buyers, shippers and processors, for the purpose of achieving certification for the fishery.
During the assessment, the three principles of the MSC Fishery Standard were evaluated in detail: the status of the fish stock, the impact of the fishery on the marine ecosystem and the management system overseeing the fishery.
In becoming certified, the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick inshore lobster fishery joins 259 other MSC-accredited fisheries across the globe that are helping to ensure healthy marine ecosystems for the future.
What makes this MSC certification award particularly stand out is that it was the result of industry cooperation of competitors across provincial borders, within what is widely regarded as a fiercely independent industry. However, stakeholders recognised that certification would help ensure the long-term viability of the resource and give the largest lobster fishery in Canada a favourable position in growing international markets.
According to the MSC, approximately 67% of all Canadian fisheries are now engaged with the programme.
The Bay of Fundy, Scotian Shelf and Southern Gulf of St Lawrence lobster trap fishery is home turf to 4,152 licensed harvesters, and lies within the Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
In 2014, the landed value of all lobster fisheries in Canada was CAD 853 million or €615.4 million, the highest of any fishery in the country. Of that, CAD 671 million or €484.1 million, was generated by the independent harvesters in the newly certified fishery.
The main markets for the lobster caught by these harvesters include the United States, Europe (primarily Belgium, France and the UK) and Asia (mainly China, Japan and South Korea).
The lobster is sold in significant quantities both in live and processed (frozen lobster tails, whole frozen and lobster meat) formats to all these markets.
The Nova Scotia and New Brunswick fishery has long been an important source of Canadian lobsters for Pittman Seafoods, as has the Prince Edward Island (PEI) lobster trap fishery, which achieved its MSC certification in November 2014.