Eco-la­bel sus­pen­sion for some crab stock

Vic­to­ria County crab ar­eas not in­cluded; Co-op largely un­af­fected

The Victoria Standard - - Local News - CAROLYN BAR­BER

This spring, some boxes of pro­cessed crab will leave Vic­to­ria Co-op­er­a­tive Fish­eries (VCF) with­out the rec­og­niz­able blue Marine Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil (MSC) logo.

The logo has long of­fered con­sumers as­sur­ance that the seafood they pur­chase meets the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s “sci­ence-based set of re­quire­ments for sus­tain­able fish­ing”. VCF Gen­eral Man­ager Os­borne Burke con­firmed that some crab sold to the Coop comes from the South­ern Gulf of St. Lawrence (SGOSL) snow crab trap fish­ery which had its Marine Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil (MSC) cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sus­pended on March 20.

“[The sus­pen­sion] will af­fect the Coop in re­la­tion to area 12F snow crab we buy in the Gulf, and area 19 sum­mer crab,” said Burke on March 27.

He says crab stocks from Crab Fish­ing Ar­eas (CFAS) 20-22, 23 and 24 will main­tain MSC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­vided there are no in­ter­ac­tions with right whales.

With crab sea­son open­ing in April, pro­cess­ing will re­quire a lit­tle more leg­work un­til the fish­ery re-es­tab­lishes com­pli­ance with MSC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“We will need to keep the two separate. When we start off in the spring, crab from ar­eas 20 to 22, or if we buy any in 23 or 24, which is all the Sco­tian shelf start­ing off at Ding­wall, we will use car­tons with the MSC logo. When we bring the crab in from Bay St. Lawrence in area 12F start­ing in mi­dapril, it will go in the same box but with­out the MSC logo.”

Burke ex­pects very lit­tle im­pact to VCF di­rect-to-cus­tomer sales as a re­sult of the in­terim sus­pen­sion. He says MSC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion fo­cusses on trace­abil­ity, some­thing VCF al­ready pro­vides dur­ing ran­dom au­dits.

He adds that con­sumers are far more in­ter­ested in food safety, qual­ity and ap­pear­ance than trace­abil­ity.

“When you look at all the con­sumer sur­veys across the US, con­sumer con­cern is about food safety. You can have Msc-cer­ti­fied snow crab, and non-msc-cer­ti­fied snow crab. One is more trace­able than the other, but you could have the non-msc crab that's far su­pe­rior in qual­ity to the Msc-cer­ti­fied crab.”

Burke is pleased with how the in­dus­try and the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans are ad­dress­ing the sus­pen­sion. He is op­ti­mistic SGOSL will re-es­tab­lish its MSC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

SAI Global con­ducted an ex­pe­dited au­dit Dec. 14-15 and found the SGOSL snow crab fish­ery fell short on two per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors - En­dan­gered Threat­ened and Pro­tected (ETP) species out­come and ETP species man­age­ment.

SGOSL has 90 days from March 20 to sub­mit a Cor­rec­tive Ac­tion Plan or face com­plete with­drawal of the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Even if sub­mit­ted on time, the sus­pen­sion re­mains in place un­til is­sues are re­solved.

The SAI re­port states the fish­ery’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sta­tus came into ques­tion fol­low­ing an “un­prece­dented mor­tal­ity event” be­tween June 6 and Sept. 15, 2017. Dur­ing this time, 13 in­ci­dents in­volv­ing 12 dead right whales were re­ported in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, 100 right whales were present in the Gulf in sum­mer 2017.

Post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tions per­formed on six of the dead right whales de­ter­mined one died from en­tan­gle­ment in com­mer­cial snow crab fish­ing gear from Crab Fish­ing Area 12, four died from ves­sel strikes and one death re­mains un­de­ter­mined. In July and Au­gust 2017, five other right whales sur­vived en­tan­gle­ments, four in snow crab fish­ing gear.

View the full SAI au­dit here: http://www.­ence/en­vi­ron­men­tal-en­vi­ron­nement/ nar­ightwhale-baleinenoirean/ in­dex-eng.html

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