Canadian Atlantic halibut fishery seeks MSC certification
Jan 11, 2011
Today the largest Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) fishery in eastern Canadian waters entered full assessment in the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) certification program for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. The fishery 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.
About the fishery
The client for this assessment is the Atlantic Halibut Council representing the main associations of commercial halibut harvesters in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. All Atlantic halibut caught by Canadian harvesters in Northwest Atlantic Fishing Organization (NAFO) fishing zones 3NOPs, 4VWX and 5Zc in Atlantic Ocean waters using demersal long lines, demersal trawls and gill nets will be considered in the assessment. Harvesters of Atlantic halibut fishing in these areas that are not currently members of the Atlantic Halibut Council are welcome to join the organization to share in the MSC certificate upon successful completion of the assessment.
The Atlantic halibut fishery is managed by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans with a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 1,700 metric tons in 2010. The fishery is managed as part of the overall groundfish fishery in the area and includes catches of Atlantic halibut landed from directed fishing trips as well as bycatch when directing for other species. The primary market for Atlantic halibut is in Canada, the United States and the European Union in both fresh and frozen products.
What the fishery says
Bruce Chapman, executive director of the Atlantic Halibut Council, says, “We have made great efforts to rebuild this resource over the past 10-15 years, and are very pleased to now be in a position to apply for MSC certification.”
What the MSC says
"Halibut is prime whitefish with high demand in many markets and we are pleased to see the first Atlantic halibut fishery entering the MSC program," said Kerry Coughlin, the Americas regional director for the MSC. "Consumers are increasingly aware of seafood sustainability issues and we hope this fishery successfully completes assessment to become another source of MSC-certified sustainable halibut for people to enjoy.”
About the certifier
The client contracted with Scientific Certification Systems to conduct the independent, third-party assessment, which is expected to take approximately 10 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.
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