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New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Inshore Lobster Fishery Enters MSC Assessment

06 March 2014

CANADA - The Bay of Fundy, Scotian Shelf and Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence lobster trap fishery has entered into independent, third-party assessment against the global, science-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification programme.

The client for the assessment, the Nova Scotia/ New Brunswick Lobster Eco-Certification Society, is a newly formed group of stakeholders representing lobster harvesting, shipping, processing and buying interests in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy regions. The assessment is being funded with support from society members and the two provincial governments, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The third-party assessment conducted by the conformance assessment body, SAI Global, will evaluate the fishery against the MSC standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The New Brunswick and Nova Scotia inshore lobster fishery is managed by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The Lobster Council of Canada (LCC) will provide secretariat services on behalf of the Nova Scotia/ New Brunswick Lobster Eco-Certification Society in order to ensure the assessment operates effectively. The fishery’s conservation efforts include limits to the number of licenses, trap limits, length of fishing seasons, number of fishing days, total allowable catch quotas, staggered fishing seasons, minimum lobster size restrictions, and the return of female egg bearing lobsters to the ocean.

Lobster harvests involved in this assessment cover Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) 23, 25, 26A and 26B in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence from the southern half of the Bay of Chaleur to the western coast of Cape Breton; LFAs 27 to 33, which stretch from the northern tip of Cape Breton Island to Barrington Bay in southwest Nova Scotia; LFA 34 located at the southwest end of Nova Scotia, which is the district with the highest lobster landings in Canada; and LFAs 35-38, which extend across the Bay of Fundy, located between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. These four groupings of LFAs will each be a separate unit of assessment in the review against the MSC standard to be conducted by SAI Global. Harvesters in these LFAs in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia landed 54,290 metric tonnes in their fishery year ending in 2012, according to preliminary figures from Canada’s DFO.

Representing a major source of income for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia fishermen, the Bay of Fundy, Scotian Shelf and Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence lobster trap fishery included 4,146 licensed harvesters in 2012-13. The landed value of all lobster fisheries in Atlantic Canada was $663 million in 2012, which is the highest of any fishery in Canada. The 2012 landed value of lobster in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia was $107 million and $382 million, respectively, which represents 74 percent of the national total.

Working together towards a common goal

“The Canadian lobster fishery is already a wonderful example of resource sustainability,” said Eugene O’Leary, President of the Nova Scotia/ New Brunswick Lobster Eco-Certification Society and President of the Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association. “Working to attain MSC certification will help secure the long-term success and stability of the Canadian lobster industry in a competitive global marketplace and provides us with an opportunity to prove Canadian lobster is a well-managed and sustainable fishery.”

“It is great to see the lobster industry in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick working together for a common goal," said Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell. “If certified to the MSC standard, the certification will go a long way in helping the sustainability and marketing efforts of our lobster.”

“With potential new markets opening for us in Europe under CETA, the opportunity to become certified to the MSC standard will enhance our reputation for high quality lobster from well-managed and sustainable fisheries,” said Minister Michael Olscamp, New Brunswick’s Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries.

Extensive commitment recognized

“The announcement of the full assessment of this large portion of the Atlantic Canadian lobster fishery represents a milestone in Atlantic Canada for involvement in the MSC programme,” said Jay Lugar, Fisheries Outreach Manager, MSC Americas region. “The MSC is proud to continue to work with the lobster industry and other fisheries engaged with the MSC certification program that represent 80 percent of the value of landings in the Canadian fishery. We recognize the extensive commitment by DFO and Atlantic Canadian inshore lobster fishery to work together to undergo the assessment of this fishery to the global MSC standard.”

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