US Atlantic scup bottom-trawl fishery achieves MSC certification

Published on
May 18, 2022
The U.S. Atlantic scup bottom-trawl fishery has achieved Marine Stewardship Council certification.

The U.S. Atlantic scup bottom-trawl fishery has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, verifying sustainable fishing practices are being used in the fishery. The certificate will be jointly held by commercial fishing operations of Cape May, New Jersey, U.S.A.-based Lund’s Fisheries and North Kingstown, Rhode Island, U.S.A.-based Seafreeze.

Scup (Stenotomus chrysops) is a brown and silver food fish found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, primarily between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A., and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, U.S.A.. The fish is also known as porgy, maiden, fairmaid, and ironsides. Unlike many fish populations, scup is considered an “underutilized species.” Scup populations have been steadily increasing along the U.S. East Coast since the mid-1990s, MSC said.

“The certification of the scup fishery will help safeguard livelihoods, seafood supplies, and healthy oceans for future generations,” MSC U.S. Director Eric Critchlow said. “Being a new whitefish fishery to gain MSC certification is a notable achievement and we welcome Lund’s and Seafreeze’s commitment to fisheries sustainability.”

Lund’s Fisheries, founded in 1954, owns and operates 20 fishing vessels delivering a variety of seafood to its freezing and processing facilities located on both the east and west coasts of the United States. Independent vessels all the way from North Carolina through Maine deliver the scup product at the company’s Cape May, New Jersey plant. The Seafreeze facility is located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and handles 10 to 12 independent vessels from Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut ports that regularly deliver scup.

“We are excited to join Seafreeze in certifying the potential for the scup fishery, along with the MSC,” Lund’s Fisheries President Wayne Reichle said. “Lund’s has been a leader in certifying its fisheries, with scup being the fourth MSC product we offer our customers.  This new certification will help us present another locally-harvested sustainable fish to the public that they may not have heard of, seen, or eaten before.”

The MSC Fisheries Standard is a global certification program that assesses fisheries management and sustainability. There are three core principles that certified fisheries must meet that include: sustainable fish stocks, minimized environmental impact, and effective fisheries management. Further than preserving fish stocks and the environment, MSC certification ensures scup products are being traced to a sustainable source through required recordkeeping.

“This is an exciting step forward in recognition of a sustainable, underutilized fishery,” Seafreeze Fisheries Liaison Meghan Lapp said. “The MSC certification adds value to the fishery and this recognition helps open up new food markets for new customers.”

SCS Global Services, a third-party environmental and sustainability auditing company headquartered in Emeryville, California, U.S.A., provided the 12-month review for the certification of the scup fishery.

In order to meet the certification, the fishery’s strengths were shown to include a governance system following national and state laws, a strategic policy framework supporting the MSC’s Principles, effective leadership within federal and state management and scientific organizations, a transparent consultation and decision-making process, and proven federal-state record of effective collaboration and cooperation at all levels.

“The successful outcome of this fishery certification highlights yet another example of robust scientific assessment, research, management, and governance of fishery resources here in the United States,” SCS Global Services Client Services Manager Brian Ahlers said.

Photo courtesy of NOAA

Contributing editor/Reporting from Hawaii, U.S.A.

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