Friday, December 6, 2013

Newfoundland Grand Bank shrimp still sustainable?

Is the shrimp fishery on the Grand Bank of Newfoundland being sustainable managed?

MSC thinks so.  It has been MSC Certified Sustainable for a number of years and products are entitled to carry the MSC approved blue sustainable fish logo as an incentive for environmentally aware consumers to buy the product at premium prices.

However, since 2009 NAFO (North Atlantic Fisheries Organization) fisheries managers have set TACs higher than those recommended by NAFO scientists.  In addition, Denmark in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland, unhappy with their share of the TAC, set their own additional quota in several years, a unilateral action allowed under NAFO rules.

The latest incident is the 2013 decision for the 2014 TAC.  Advice from NAFO scientists was that the stock had declined to a very low level termed the “limit reference point” where any further fishing would be in danger of causing serious and irreversible harm, and that there should therefore be no fishing in 2014.

NAFO managers again ignored the scientific advice and set the TAC for 2014 at 4,300 tons with the major portion allocated to Canada.

In contrast, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in the US recently heeded similar scientific advice from US scientists and has shut down the shrimp fishery in the Gulf of Maine for 2014.

Conclusion – MSC subscribes to the notion that management of a "sustainable" fishery does not have to be science-based to retain certification?