Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Snow Crab Certified to the MSC Standard
Sep 25, 2012
The southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab trap fishery, entered into assessment by the Affiliation of Seafood Producers Association of Nova Scotia (ASPANS), has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery. Snow crab from this fishery is now eligible to display the MSC ecolabel. This is the second Atlantic Canadian snow crab fishery to have earned MSC certification, following closely the Scotian Shelf snow crab fishery.
The commercial fishery for the snow crab in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence occurs in two seasons with the majority taking place from April – July in Area 12, landing 9,700 tonnes in 2011, and a second season from July – September in Area 19, landing 1,700 tons in 2011. Approximately 449 commercial licenses are issued to individuals with a mixture of mid-shore and inshore vessels in Area 12 fishing out of New Brunswick, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and inshore vessels less than 45 feet in Area 19 in Nova Scotia. First Nations groups receive communal, commercial licenses in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery and their commercial landings can be part of the supply chain eventually sold as MSC certified. Landings are processed into crab leg sections and crab meat products and supplied in frozen form to markets primarily in Japan and the U.S. The Gulf Region of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) manages the fishery.
What the fishery says
Peter Norsworthy, Executive Director of the ASPANS, said: “This certification of the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence supply, coupled with the recent certification of the Scotian Shelf supply, provides Nova Scotia crab producers’ clients with up to 12,000 tonnes of MSC certified snow crab products annually. Achieving certification of our entire snow crab supply demonstrates our continued commitment to sustainability.
“MSC certification permits ASPANS members to differentiate our products from others while positioning the fishery as a model for responsible shellfish management practices. This certification assures eco-conscious consumers that snow crab supplied by Nova Scotia producers is harvested in a sustainable and responsible manner.
"We are committed to expanding sustainability practices in the snow crab fishery. Through our certificate-sharing program we invite other Atlantic Canadian producers to also demonstrate their commitment to sustainable management of this important resource.
“We are proud of our partnership with harvesters and regulators in management of this important Atlantic resource. Through effective effort controls, escape mechanisms for undersize and female crab and conservative management practices, snow crab stocks are stable and reproductive capacity is strong.”
What the MSC says
Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas Region Director, said: “There is demand in the market place for crab from sources that are certified to the MSC standard and we welcome another MSC certified source for the highly marketable snow crab species. The people of the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab trap fishery have demonstrated their sustainable practices and commitment to environmental responsibility and their product deserves recognition in the market.”
About the assessment and certification
The independent, third party assessment to the MSC standard was conducted by Global Trust, now part of SAI Global Assurances Ltd. The assessment found that the stock of snow crab is well managed and bycatch is very low. The certifier applied two improvement actions to the certification to bring all scores up to best practice. One states that documentary evidence is required that the fishery has clear and transparent outcomes aligned with MSC principles of sustainability and management. The second calls for the fishery to provide information about the system of monitoring and evaluation of the management plan against objectives. Over the five year life of the MSC certificate, progress against these conditions will be tracked and available for public review in annual surveillance audits.