Northern Wind expanding its lobster traceability with right whales in mind

A lobster underwater.

New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based Northern Wind is expanding its scallop traceability program into its lobster supply, with an aim of developing the technology to help reduce the risk of North Atlantic right whale entanglements.

Northern Wind finalized a partnership with traceability technology company Legit Fish in 2021, enabling full-chain of its North Atlantic scallop supply. That technology, which traces product origin, harvest area, and landing-date – verifiable to government records – will now be utilized in the company’s lobster supply.

“We’ve been running the scallop program for about three years, we got all the kinks worked out of that I believe a year ago,” Northern Wind Co-Founder Ken Melanson told SeafoodSource.

Melanson said the company has been well aware of the issues involving the lobster industry and right whales, and wanted to try and help find a solution. The critically endangered whale, of which scientists estimate only 340 remain, have been found entangled in lobster gear and the industry’s potential impact on the species has been the subject of lengthy court battles in the U.S. as regulators struggle to balance the lobster industry’s needs with the survival of the species.

Northern Wind, Melanson said, determined that the company’s successful scallop traceability program might be able to help.

“When we looked at it, we said ‘what if we can overlap the scallop technology that we’re using right now, and put that into the lobster process and help this situation,’” Melanson said.

The company asked Legit Fish to begin looking into how to apply the lessons learned in the scallop fishery to lobster, and according to Melanson the company is working on software to try and provide the same level of traceability for the company’s lobster products as it has for scallops.  

Northern Wind has become more involved in the lobster industry since ACON Investments acquired and merged Northern Wind, Suncoast Seafood Inc., and Raymond O’Neill & Son Fisheries Ltd., forming Atlantic Sustainable Catch in October 2021. Both Suncoast and Raymond O’Neill & Son are Canadian companies, so Melanson said the company is going to focus on Canadian lobster supply first.

“We’re going to tighten down the Canadian supply, because that’s a little easier for us,” he said.

The end result 

Photo courtesy of RLS Photo/Shutterstock

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