Clearwater drops MSC certification for lobster fishery

Published on
December 4, 2020

Clearwater Seafoods is dropping Marine Stewardship Council certification for its Canadian offshore lobster fishery.

Christine Penney, vice president of sustainability and corporate communications for the Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada-based supplier, confirmed the move in a statement emailed to SeafoodSource.

“Clearwater is confident in the ability of this fishery to meet the MSC standard today, but has chosen not to initiate recertification at this time given the internal resources required to support recertification,” Penney said. “This is a voluntary decision driven by business considerations. This fishery accounts for a small portion of Clearwater lobster volumes, and the use of the ecolabel is very limited on products from this fishery.”

The decision on lobster fishery does not affect any other Clearwater products, according to Penney.

Earlier this year, the MSC’s certification of the Maine Certified Sustainable Lobster Association (MCLSA) fishery in the United States was suspended in response to its impact on the population of endangered North Atlantic right whale.

And two years ago, Clearwater, via CS ManPar, was convicted of repeatedly storing 3,800 lobster traps on the ocean floor more than the limit of 72 hours, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Clearwater paid a CAD 30,000 (USD 23,000, EUR 19,000) fine as part of its guilty plea, and the conviction triggered an audit by MSC. In early 2019, Clearwater said it changed its controversial lobster fishing practices.

The company’s decision is not related to the company’s support of MSC certification in general, according to Penney.

“Clearwater has and continues to be a big supporter of the MSC as a means to easily communicate sustainability performance to the market and incentivize change in global fisheries that currently do not meet the standard,” she said.

Clearwater’s sustainability measures that were in place for 10 years of successful certification continue to be in effect, according to Penney.

“The offshore lobster fishery remains sustainable,” she said. “The fishery has not been suspended or failed, and it maintains its current certificate until December 2020. We always strive to innovate and modernize our operations, improve livelihoods and safety for our people, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery and we will continue to do so."

In addition, Clearwater “has and continues to be a big supporter of the MSC as a means to easily communicate sustainability performance to the market and incentivize change in global fisheries that currently do not meet the standard,” Penney said.

Last month, Clearwater Seafoods was purchased by Premium Brands Holdings Corporation and a Mi’kmaq First Nations Coalition in a transaction valued at roughly CAD 1 billion (USD 768 million, EUR 650 million).

Photo courtesy of Clearwater Seafoods

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