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Eastern Canada offshore scallop: the fishers' story

Meet the Eastern Canada offshore scallop fishers

New technologies and careful management have helped the Eastern Canada offshore scallop fishers reduce environmental impacts and ensure there will be scallops to catch for decades to come. MSC certification is helping them demonstrate this commitment to sustainability.

Quick facts


"Certification is a validation by the world's most recognised and respected eco-label, MSC, of the efforts and care taken by our people and the government of Canada to ensure that our offshore sea scallop resource is harvested in a responsible and sustainable manner."

– Colin MacDonald, CEO of Clearwater Seafoods

Why we chose MSC certification

There is high market demand for scallops and in choosing to pursue MSC certification, the Eastern Canada offshore scallop fishers are marketing to buyers seeking scallops proven to be from a source managed with long-term sustainability in mind. By ensuring their management methods are sustainable and in line with the MSC standards, they ensure their products will continue to hold a premium place in the scallop market.

What sets us apart

Here are a few of the steps the Eastern Canada offshore scallop fishery has taken towards sustainable fishing:

  • Conservative harvest strategy
  • Limit on the number of licensed vessels reduces pressure on stocks
  • Enterprise allocation program prevents race to fish
  • Technological and research advancements reduce impact to bottom habitat and juvenile stock

Environmental benefits of MSC certification

The scallop fishery operates under an enterprise allocation program, which prevents the problem of a competitive race to fish. Limits to the number of vessels licensed to fish offshore scallops also reduce pressure on the stocks. And technological advancements like mapping of the ocean bottom allow impacts on bottom habitat to be reduced. Collaborative research and data sharing with the fisheries management agencies also helps fishers to more easily identify mature scallop beds so that the juvenile stocks can be left alone to grow.

At the time of the certification in March 2010, Colin MacDonald, CEO of Clearwater Seafoods, one of the client companies for the MSC certification, called the certification a "validation by the world's most recognised and respected ecolabel, MSC, of the efforts and care taken by our people and the government of Canada to ensure that our offshore sea scallop resource is harvested in a responsible and sustainable manner."

How else does MSC certification benefit the environment?

Economic benefits of MSC certification

Scallops are the third most valuable species in Nova Scotia, behind lobster and crab, with a worldwide export market that was worth $121,510,883 in 2005/06.

While the offshore fleet markets some fresh scallops, individually frozen-at-sea, quick frozen scallops account for nearly 60 percent of the landings each year.

With continued high demand for scallops, it is hoped that certification will allow Canadian offshore scallops to appeal to buyers looking for sustainably managed seafood.

How else does MSC certification improve economic prospects for fisheries?

Looking ahead...

As part of maintaining certification, the fishery is collecting more information on the incidental and discard mortality of scallops, among other measures to further improve the management and sustainability of the fishery.

Learn more about the history and sustainability of this fishery (PDF, 1.5MB)

Get recipes for sustainable fish dishes

Find MSC labelled products from this fishery

More about MSC certified fisheries and fish

 
The article above was written by an independent journalist commissioned by the MSC to find out how MSC certification has helped this fishery.

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