Press release

Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab fishery becomes 200th fishery to achieve MSC certification

April 18, 2013

The Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) snow crab fishery, the province’s highest value fishery and one of Canada’s most valuable fisheries, has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. This follows an independent, third-party assessment against the MSC standard conducted by Intertek Moody Marine (IMM). The client for the assessment is the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP), based in St. John’s in the province of NL, Canada. This certification marks the 200th fishery to become certified to the MSC global standard.  

Snow crab, also known as queen crab, landed in this region is now eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel if the product is processed by a member company of ASP. In addition, ASP has committed to allowing processors of snow crab in the province to participate in the client group for the snow crab certification. There are numerous snow crab processing facilities in NL with significant capacity reflecting the highly seasonal nature of the fishery and the need for crab to be delivered live for processing.

About the Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab fishery

The fishery takes place off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador both in the Canadian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and in adjacent international waters within a number of defined crab management areas (CMA). There are four Units of Certification for this fishery based on four geographical areas: Division 2J, Division 3K, Division 3LNO and Division 3Ps.

The method of capture is by conical crab trap. Harvesting starts in the early spring depending on the area and fishing season. Weather and the presence of ice is a large factor affecting the start of the season which is timed to avoid the mating period and reduce the catch of soft shell crab in the summer post-moult period. In recent years, total landings have been approximately 50,000 metric tonnes annually.

After entering the facility the snow crab is cooked and processed into frozen sections for market. The largest markets are the USA and Japan. Other buyers include China, Thailand and Europe. 

Certification represents a significant accomplishment

"The Association of Seafood Producers is proud to see this fishery achieve MSC certification,” said Derek Butler, executive director of ASP. "This represents a significant accomplishment by member-producers and also emphasizes their strong commitment to sustainability in the industry. That support is reflected in the cooperation we received from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans as well as provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture support. We are particularly proud to be the 200th certified fishery to achieve MSC certification and as the client for MSC certified coldwater prawns, we are especially pleased that the two largest fisheries in the province by value and volume are now MSC certified.”

Commitment to sustainability

"We congratulate the Association of Seafood Producers for its dedication and commitment to sustainability,” says Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas regional director. “With their leadership on the certification of the Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab fishery as sustainable and well-managed, other snow crab processors in the region now have the opportunity to be part of the certificate. All processors joining in can showcase their products as MSC-certified, which is important to major buyers in both domestic and international markets. As a result of bringing initially coldwater prawns and now snow crab, the two largest fisheries in the province, into certification, ASP is making a significant impact in the region in demonstrating a commitment to sustainability that is now recognized worldwide.”

Congratulations to all 200 fisheries

Rupert Howes, chief executive of the Marine Stewardship Council, says: “I congratulate the Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab fishery on their MSC certification. This is a fantastic milestone and I thank all 200 fisheries that have now achieved MSC certification for their leadership and commitment to ensuring that our oceans are fished sustainably. This is also great news for seafood markets and consumers around the world who are increasingly demanding sustainable and fully traceable seafood choices. We look forward to celebrating the 201st fishery and many more future partners over the coming months and years.”

About the certifier

Intertek Moody Marine was the independent certification body for this assessment. The fishery was entered into assessment in May, 2012.

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