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Gaspésie Lobster Fishery Enters into MSC Assessment

14 April 2014

CANADA - The Gaspésie lobster fishery, which is concentrated on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec along the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Atlantic Canada, has entered into independent, third-party assessment against the global, science-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification programme.

The fishery to be assessed is represented by the Regroupement des Pêcheurs Professionnels du Sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG) that includes the 160 license holders accounting for all the commercial harvest in the area. SAI Global will conduct the independent, third-party assessment against the MSC standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. SAI Global is now assessing or has certified the vast majority of inshore Canadian lobster fisheries against the MSC standard.

The Gaspé lobster fishery operates baited traps to catch American lobster (Homarus americanus). The fishery typically operates in spring for up to 71 days, depending upon location, and is managed by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Quebec Region. Conservation efforts include measures to control fishing effort such as the length of season, the number of licenses and the number and size of traps, as well as escape measures such as minimum and maximum legal sizes, biodegradable clips, escape vent and V-notching of berried females that are returned to the sea.

The harvest occurs in North Atlantic Canadian waters in FAO Fishing Area 21, Canadian Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) 19, 20 and 21, that are adjacent to the Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec. In 2013, fishermen landed 1,370 tonnes of lobster, accounting for one third of the lobster landed in Quebec. Gaspé lobster is sold in different forms, but the principal product is the live lobster sold mainly in Quebec province, but also on other Canadian and United States markets.

O’neil Cloutier, executive director of Regroupement des Pêcheurs Professionnels du Sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG), said: “The lobster harvesters work hard to protect their resource in our area, for their future and for the future well-being of the Gaspé region. We reduced the fishing pressure by restructuring the fishing fleet through license buyback. Also, we were the first lobster fishery to modernize its fleet by using electronic logbook to provide real-time, reliable data on bycatch and landings. We are thus confident to achieve MSC certification.”

"With the entry of Gaspésie fishers into full assessment and upon successful conclusion there will be greater supply of lobster to national and international markets," said Jay Lugar, MSC Americas Fisheries Outreach Manager.

"Chain of Custody buyers will have more confidence their supply originates from sustainable and well managed fisheries that meet the global MSC standard. I thank O’neil Cloutier and the members of RPPSG for bringing their fishery to MSC."

TheFishSite News Desk

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