Gulf of Maine lobster MSC suspension lifted

Lobster boats at the dock in Portland, Maine. The MSC certification for the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery has been reinstated following its suspension.

MRAG Americas has announced the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certificate has been reinstated for the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery effective 1 September, 2021, following its suspension in 2020.

The MSC certification was suspended in August 2020 in the wake of a decision in a federal court that found that the lobster fishery was in violation of the Endangered Species Act. That ruling by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in April 2020 found the National Marine Fisheries Service failed to include an “incidental take statement” for the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.

The suspension of the fishery’s MSC certification soon followed.

“This fishery was suspended 31 August, 2020, pending improvements to the management system pertaining to interactions between the lobster fishery and North Atlantic right whales,” MRAG Americas said in a release. MRAG Americas is the MSC certifier for the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery.

However, since that time the NMFS has issued new regulations intended to protect the North Atlantic right whale, and has also met Boasberg’s requirements to bring the fishery back into compliance. As a result of the new rules and following a new assessment, MRAG Americas said, the lobster fishery has been found to once again be compliant to MSC standards.

The certifier said it submitted a variation request to the MSC requesting the ability to “back date the lifting of suspension date to 1 September, 2021,” a request that was granted.

Photo courtesy of James Mattil/Shutterstock


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