Millions of pounds of Bahamian spiny lobster tail may soon be certified sustainable

Published on
January 23, 2017

The Bahamian spiny lobster fishery has committed itself to the pursuit of the Marine Stewardship Council’s global sustainability standard following years of guided, concerted improvement.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) alongside the Bahamas Marine Exporters Association, the Bahamas Department of Marine Resources and the Nature Conservancy began making improvements within the fishery back in 2009 via a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) which addressed “governance, fishing practices and environmental impacts.”

“The Fishery Improvement Project has made a myriad of accomplishments – adoption of a harvest control rule, lobster trap fishery bycatch studies, a stock assessment, and the establishment of a data collection and management system – all of which put Bahamian spiny lobster in good position for MSC assessment,” said Wendy Goyert, World Wildlife Fund senior program officer, of the FIP.
If the fishery is successful in its MSC bid, spiny lobster tail meat from the fishery would be permitted to bear the blue MSC ecolabel, “which provides consumers an easy way to choose seafood that can be traced back to a certified sustainable source,” according to the certification body.

"In The Bahamas, a growing share of the seafood sector recognizes the economic benefits of MSC certification. Keeping stocks healthy can open new markets, satisfy eco-minded consumers, and ensure that there will be lobsters to catch in the future,” said Mia Isaacs, president of Bahamas Marine Exporters Association (BMEA) which is supporting this assessment.

"We welcome the Bahamian spiny lobster fishery’s decision to enter MSC assessment and the hard work that’s been done through their fishery improvement project. This is an important milestone for the MSC and for fishing in The Bahamas,” added Brian Perkins, MSC regional director for the Americas.

ME Certification Ltd., an accredited third-party conformity assessment body, will conduct the fishery’s assessment.

Spiny lobster is a USD 90 million (EUR 83.8 million) industry in the Bahamas, employing 9,000 fishers who, in turn, scour 45,000 square miles of ocean for catch. Exports of spiny lobster tail amass 4 million pounds per year from the Bahamas, typically to the United States and European markets.

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