A first for North American snow crab fishery

North America’s first snow crab fishery has attained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, the London-based organization announced on Tuesday.

The Scotian Shelf snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) trap fishery announced its involvement in the MSC program in June 2011, and the MSC client is the Affiliation of Seafood Producers Association of Nova Scotia (ASPANS). Also undergoing MSC assessment in Atlantic Canada is the Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab fishery, entered by the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) in May.

Japan’s Kyoto Danish Seine Fishing Federation snow crab and flathead flounder fishery was the world’s first snow crab fishery — and the first Asian fishery — to earn MSC certification in 2008. It’s the only other snow crab fishery to have received MSC certification so far.

The Scotian Shelf Snow crab trap fishery occurs from April to September on the eastern portion of the shelf and November to March on the western portion. About 203 commercial licenses have been issued, and vessels are under 65 feet in length. The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) manages the fishery. The product is processed into crab leg sections and crab meat and exported frozen primarily to Japan and the United States.

The independent, third-party assessment to the MSC standard was conducted by Global Trust, which is now part of SAI Global Assurances Ltd.

Currently, there are more than 270 fisheries engaged in the MSC program, with 166 certified and 118 in full assessment.


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