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Snow Crab Fishery Becomes 200th Fishery to Achieve MSC Certification

22 April 2013

CANADA - The Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) snow crab fishery, the province’s highest value fishery and one of Canada’s most valuable fisheries, has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

This follows an independent, third-party assessment against the MSC standard conducted by Intertek Moody Marine (IMM). The client for the assessment is the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP), based in St. John’s in the province of NL, Canada. This certification marks the 200th fishery to become certified to the MSC global standard.

Snow crab, also known as queen crab, landed in this region is now eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel if the product is processed by a member company of ASP. In addition, ASP has committed to allowing processors of snow crab in the province to participate in the client group for the snow crab certification. There are numerous snow crab processing facilities in NL with significant capacity reflecting the highly seasonal nature of the fishery and the need for crab to be delivered live for processing.

The fishery takes place off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador both in the Canadian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and in adjacent international waters within a number of defined crab management areas (CMA). There are four Units of Certification for this fishery based on four geographical areas: Division 2J, Division 3K, Division 3LNO and Division 3Ps.

The method of capture is by conical crab trap. Harvesting starts in the early spring depending on the area and fishing season. Weather and the presence of ice is a large factor affecting the start of the season which is timed to avoid the mating period and reduce the catch of soft shell crab in the summer post-moult period. In recent years, total landings have been approximately 50,000 metric tonnes annually.

After entering the facility the snow crab is cooked and processed into frozen sections for market. The largest markets are the USA and Japan. Other buyers include China, Thailand and Europe.

"The Association of Seafood Producers is proud to see this fishery achieve MSC certification,” said Derek Butler, executive director of ASP.

 

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