U.S. dogfish fishery earns MSC eco-label

The U.S. East Coast North Atlantic spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) fishery, assessed as six separate units of certification, on Thursday was awarded MSC certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery.

The fishery operates year round in federal and state waters off the U.S. East Coast from Maine to North Carolina and uses three gear types: gillnet, longline, and otter trawl. In 2009, landings from all three gear types were approximately 3,300 metric tons, with gillnet accounting for approximately two-thirds of the total. 

Due to the strong recovery of the stock in recent years following the success of management measures such as low annual catch quotas and trip limits, fishery managers have been able to increase the allowable commercial catch. In the fishing year 2012-13, the limit is 16,101 metric tons. The primary commercial market is the European Union.

“We entered the U.S. Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery into assessment because we wanted to confirm to our buyers in the European Union that the fish they are purchasing comes from a sustainable and well-managed fishery and MSC certification has the global integrity and credibility to enable us to do that,” said attorney John F. Whiteside, Jr. on behalf of the Sustainable Fisheries Association, the fishery’s client for certification.

Products from this fishery are now eligible to carry the MSC eco-label. The association consists of four companies: Seatrade International Co., Zeus Packing; Marder Trawling and Eastern Fisheries.

“Through MSC certification, buyers and consumers worldwide now have assurance that the U.S. Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery is well-managed and sustainable, the target stock is healthy and commercial fishermen are harvesting the stock appropriately,” said Kerry Coughlin, MSC regional director-Americas. “The scientific assessment rigorously reviewed issues including by-catch, discards and interaction with ETP species and took into account input from stakeholders in an open and transparent process.”

Independent, third-party assessment was conducted by Intertek Moody Marine. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) manages the federal and state fisheries in cooperation, respectively, with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council that collaborates with the New England Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which coordinates fisheries management on behalf of the individual States.



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