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  • MLCA

Snow Crab Sustainability Certificate Suspended

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certificate for the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (SGOSL) snow crab trap fishery in Canada was suspended by certifier SAI Global (SAIG) in March. The certifier concluded that, based on new information including the Incident Report on 2017 right whale mortalities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the fishery no longer meets the MSC Fishery Standard related to Endangered, Threatened and Protected species. As a result of the MSC certificate suspension, landings from four crab fishing areas in the Gulf cannot be sold as MSC-certified or bear the MSC label. A fishery certificate suspension is not the same as a certificate withdrawal. Certificate suspensions can be lifted upon completion of a Corrective Action Plan by the fishery and acceptance by the independent certifier that the fishery once again meets the MSC Standard. “We have been working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and all the fishers’ associations in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to address the tragic events of summer 2017. There is a collective will to make sure this is never repeated again and we are strongly advocating for effective solutions,” said Peter Norsworthy, from the Affiliation of Seafood Producers Association of Nova Scotia, which coordinates the MSC fishery client group. “We use MSC certification to provide assurance to buyers that the fishery meets a high bar for sustainability. We are committed to returning the fishery back to the position where it meets the MSC standard once again.” Under the terms of the suspension, the fishery client group has 90 days to submit a Corrective Action Plan to address the issue and re-establish compliance with the MSC program. If the plan is submitted within the time limit, the certificate will remain suspended while the plan is implemented. The suspension can only be lifted once the certifier conducts a further review at the completion of the action plan. If the fishery client group is unable to submit a satisfactory plan within 90 days, the certifier will withdraw the fishery certificate. SAIG initiated the expedited audit of the snow crab fishery in October 2017, after receipt and review of published reports on the right whale mortalities. During the expedited audit they consulted with the fishery, DFO officials, scientists and other NGO representatives to fully evaluate whether the fishery’s practices continued to meet the MSC Standard.

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