NGOs fight swordfish certification


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
July 22, 2009

The David Suzuki Foundation and at least eight other Canadian and U.S. environmental NGOs are contesting Marine Stewardship Council certification of Atlantic Canada’s longline and harpoon swordfish fishery.

The NGOs say the fishery threatens the health of sea turtle and shark populations and therefore cannot be deemed sustainable, claiming it incidentally catches about 170 leatherback turtles, 1,200 loggerhead turtles and tens of thousands of blue, shortfin mako and porbeagle sharks annually.

Though they oppose the longline fishery, the NGOs agree that the harpoon fishery, which has no bycatch, is a much more sustainable method of catching swordfish.

“Due to severe species and ecosystem impacts with this fishery and a failure on the part of the government of Canada to manage them, the Canadian longline swordfish fishery does not meet essential sustainability criteria and should not be certified,” said Scott Wallace, sustainable fisheries analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation.

Atlantic Canada’s longline and harpoon swordfish fishery entered full assessment under the London-based MSC program in March; it’s schedule to be completed in February 2010. Tavel Certification is assessing the fishery. Stakeholder meetings are taking place this week in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.

More than 90 percent of the swordfish landed in Atlantic Canada is exported to the United States.

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