US skate fishery approved for MSC certificate

Published on
June 24, 2019

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has certified the U.S. Atlantic winter skate fishery in the Northwest Atlantic against its fisheries standard.

The assessment was requested by the Sustainable Fisheries Association, which includes Cape Ann Seafood Exchange, Inc.; Marder Trawling, Inc.; and Seatrade International. Carried about by assessment body MRAG Americas, Inc., the certification process was completed as part of a scope extension under the U.S. Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery certificate, MSC said. 

“Congratulations to Sustainable Fisheries Association on achieving MSC certification for another well managed U.S. fishery,” said Brian Perkins, the regional director of the Americas for the MSC. “They have demonstrated their hard work in sustaining the skate fishery, and in meeting the MSC fisheries sustainability standard.”

John Whiteside, an attorney who represents the Sustainable Fisheries Association, said the certification will be effective until 2024, with routine annual audits conduction at various intervals within that timeframe to ensure continuous compliance with the MSC’s standard.

“The certification of the fishery allows consumers to buy winter skate with the confidence that the fishery will continue to be operated and managed in a sustainable manner. We are committed to preserving a way of life for commercial fishermen and their families while minimizing ecosystem impact to insure the winter skate fishery is sustainable for generations to come,” Whiteside said.

A relative to sharks and rays, skate possesses a kite-like shape. The skate fishery in the U.S. began to develop in the 1990’s and was marketed at that time as an underutilized species, the MSC explained. Bottom trawls, longlines, and gillnets are approved for catching winter skates in state and federal waters off the Atlantic coast of the United States. Skates are not known to migrate at a large scale, but they do move seasonally in response to changing water temperatures. They tend to move offshore in the summer and early autumn, returning inshore during the winter and spring.

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