The Canadian Atlantic halibut fishery managed by Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council certification for sustainable fisheries. The certification involved a team of scientists from SCS Global Services, which conducted an independent assessment based on the three principles of the MSC standard: the sustainability of the fish stock, its impact on the environment, and the fishery's management system.
"DFO has successfully demonstrated that its management approach for the Canadian Atlantic halibut fishery will protect the fish stock far into the future," said Dr. Robert J. Hrubes, SCS executive vice president. "MSC certification means that consumers can now purchase Atlantic halibut from this fishery with confidence that it is a sustainable choice."
The certification includes all Atlantic halibut caught by the Canadian fleet off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, including part of the Grand Banks and Georges Bank, Northwest Atlantic Fishing Organization (NAFO) fishing zones 3NOPs, 4VWX, and 5Zc. The fishery's Total Allowable Catch of halibut was 2,200 metric tonnes in the quota year ending March 31, 2013.
"Our great efforts to rebuild this resource over the past 10-15 years and strict management by DFO has been rewarded by our achievement of MSC certification for our fishery," said Bruce Chapman, Executive Director of the Atlantic Halibut Council. "We take pride in the cooperative effort the Atlantic Halibut Council and DFO take every year to monitor our fishery, deliver information and assess data to ensure we are cautiously managing our fishery. With significant increases in the fishery over recent years in a challenging and changing natural environment, we feel MSC certification has confirmed our ability to use our knowledge to sustain our fishery for the future."
The entire process, which included on-site and documentation assessment, extensive stakeholder review, and improvement actions, spanned more than two years. Stakeholder comments were solicited at every step of the assessment.
"The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean provided an exemplary level of support and engagement throughout the assessment process," said Dr. Sabine Daume, SCS sustainable seafood manager. SCS has also certified US Pacific Halibut, Canada British Columbia Halibut, and numerous other species under the MSC standard since the mid-1990s.