Atlantic redfish fishery achieves MSC certification

Published on
May 24, 2017

The Acadian redfish fishery in an area of international waters nearest Newfoundland, Canada has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification under the Fishery Standard, the Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council (GEAC) and MSC announced on 23 May. 

As a result of the certification, Acadian redfish (Sebastes fasciatus) – also known as Atlantic redfish or ocean perch – acquired in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization’s (NAFO) Division 3LN, can now bear the MSC ecolabel and be sold as MSC-certified by companies holding MSC Chain of Custody certificates. 

Atlantic redfish caught within the 3LN parameters has filled the hulls of many fleets over the years, including those hailing from Canada, the Soviet Union, Cuba, South Korea, Portugal and Spain, which all have acquired rights to the fishery. However, during the late 1980s, overfishing of Atlantic redfish caused a depletion of stock that led to a moratorium being declared on directed fishing in 1998. Years of careful management led to the fishery’s re-opening in 2010 after stocks recovered. 

“Managed by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), a cautious total allowable catch (TAC) is established through a well-tested harvest control rule that has been peer-reviewed by scientists from NAFO-member countries,” said MSC. “This management approach has proven effective at continuing stock growth and is expected to continue to guide this fishery through long-term sustainability.” 

Currently, Canada holds a sizeable share of the TAC, 42.6 percent, with the majority caught by Ocean Choice International vessels fishing on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. 

“This certificate is a demonstration of the rigor applied to the management of the Canadian redfish fishery in 3LN.” said Bruce Chapman, President of GEAC, the industry association representing the fishery client group. “We continue to work towards all of our fisheries being able to bear the MSC label.”  

“The combined efforts of all actors to follow globally accepted best fishery management practices for 3LN redfish is a clear signal to world markets of a long-term commitment to maintaining the stock at sustainable levels,” Jay Lugar, program director for MSC in Canada, said. “It is also proof that fish stocks can recover and robust fisheries management works. The MSC is proud be a vehicle that the Canadian fishing industry employs to demonstrate this.”

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