Skip to main content

Maine lobster fishery achieves sustainability certification

The Gulf of Maine lobster fishery has achieved certification to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard. Certification proves that all commercial vessels licensed by the State of Maine and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that fish within the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Lobster Conservation Management Area 1 and sell lobster to the Maine Certified Sustainable Lobster Association meet rigorous sustainability requirements. The MSC’s science-based standard is the world’s most credible and recognized standard for environmentally sustainable wild-caught seafood.

Craig A. Rief, President of the Maine Certified Sustainable Lobster Association said: “Maine lobster is known domestically and around the world as an iconic species that defines high quality seafood. With MSC certification, our customers have the assurance that Maine lobster is harvested in a sustainable way and will be available long into the future.”

The Maine Certified Sustainable Lobster Association (MCSLA) is a group of New England lobster wharf operators, processors, dealers and wholesalers. In September 2014, the MCSLA submitted the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery to independent, third-party assessment against the MSC standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. The members of the MCSLA are: Cape Bald Packers Ltd; Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods; Cozy Harbor Seafood, Inc.; Craig's All Natural, LLC; D. C. Air & Seafood, Inc.; East Coast Seafood, LLC; Eastern Traders; Inland Seafood; and Maine Coast Shellfish LLC. The sustainability certification for the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery is in parallel with a separate MSC certification for the fishery that was achieved in 2013.

The Gulf of Maine is the center of the US lobster industry, accounting for more than two-thirds of the nation’s lobster landings. Over four thousand commercial fishermen actively harvest Maine lobster. Lobster catches in Maine have continued to increase, to 127 million pounds in 2013, well above all previous values. The Maine Department of Marine Resources reports the total landed value for Maine lobster in 2013 was $364 million, a $22 million increase over 2012 and $30 million over 2011. Maine lobster is sold live, fresh and frozen in domestic and international markets.

Brian Perkins, MSC regional director - Americas, said: "The MSC’s vision is for oceans to be teeming with life for future generations. We are extremely pleased to see the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery succeed in the MSC process and we hope to be their partner in creating and maintaining new markets.”

The independent assessment of the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery was conducted by SAI Global Assurance Services, an accredited third-party conformity assessment body. SAI Global Assurance Services assembled a team of fishery science and policy experts to evaluate the fishery according to the three principles of the MSC Fisheries Standard: the health of the stock; the impact of fishing on the marine environment; and the management of the fishery. The MSC process is open to stakeholders and all results are peer reviewed.