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Swordfish Fishery Enters Assessment for MSC Certification

29 August 2012

US - Sustainable Swordfish LLC, a group involved with about two-thirds of the US east coast swordfish landings, has entered the SSLLC US North Atlantic swordfish (Xiphias gladius) longline fishery into independent, third-party assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) principles and criteria for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

If successful, swordfish harvested from the area by members of this group will be eligible to display the MSC ecolabel. This assessment of the swordfish fishery against the MSC standard is in parallel with a separate full assessment underway for the North Atlantic areas by a group that is already certified for the Southeast US fishery off Florida.

The US longline swordfish fishery takes place on the US east coast and extends to the North Atlantic Ocean into waters south of Canada and north of the Caribbean in parts of FAO statistical areas 21 and 31. The assessment includes three units of certification defined by the areas fished in these waters. The fishery is open year round and the fishing season is determined by the local availability of swordfish. North Atlantic swordfish are managed as Atlantic highly migratory species by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and in the US by the Highly Migratory Species Management Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The 2012 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) established by ICCAT for US vessels is 3,907 tons. The product is sold as fresh swordfish in the US.

Bill Struzziery, Resource Manager of North Coast Seafoods Corp. and President of Sustainable Swordfish LLC said: “Our US fishery has led the way in encouraging adoption of sustainable principles, including supporting international harvest reductions and advancing the use of circle hooks and other innovative gear tools and techniques, to rebuild the stock of North Atlantic swordfish. Our partnership, which is open to certificate sharing with any in the industry that share our vision and purpose, is pleased to enter assessment against the MSC standard, the worldwide leader in eco-certification of wild-caught fish. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to demonstrate that our highly regulated US swordfish fishery meets international sustainability standards and rightly deserves to be sold as MSC certified.”

Kerry Coughlin, Regional Director, Americas, said: “We applaud the commitment of Sustainable Swordfish LLC to responsible harvesting. This is a significant area and important species in US markets. Entry of this fishery to MSC assessment confirms the strength of harnessing market forces to advance seafood sustainability. With industry, conservation organizations, fishermen and suppliers participating in a rigorous scientific and transparent process to assess the sustainability of this fishery, buyers can be confident in the credibility of the outcome.”

TheFishSite News Desk



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