It's official: Fraser sockeye gets MSC eco-label

It's official: The Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery has been certified as sustainable and well managed according the Marine Stewardship Council.

The decision was expected after an independent adjudicator on 12 July upheld a determination recommending that the fishery be certified. In February, three environmental groups filed an objection contesting a recommendation by third-party certifier Tavel Certification, now part of Moody Marine Ltd., that the harvest be certified.

The David Suzuki Foundation, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust and Watershed Watch Salmon Society claimed that the fishery does not meet the MSC's criteria because Fraser River sockeye populations are threatened by overfishing.

But in a press release on Friday, the MSC said the final certification report includes 17 conditions aimed at improving the health of the fishery. The conditions include annual audits "to provide objective data upon which to assess progress." Fisheries managers and the client, the Canadian Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Society, are responsible for implementing the conditions, and certification can be revoked if they don't, according to the MSC. The fishery is managed by Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

On 2 July, three units of the British Columbia sockeye fishery — Barkley Sound, the Nass and the Skeena — received MSC certification. The fourth unit, the Fraser River, was put on hold pending the adjudicator's ruling.

More than 200 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program, with 91 certified, 120 in full assessment and 40 to 50 fisheries in confidential pre-assessment. On Thursday, Pacific sablefish became the fifth British Columbia fishery and 11th Canadian fishery to earn the MSC eco-label.

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