Thursday, September 22, 2011

Environmental groups formally object to MSC eco-label for Canadian longline swordfish

The Ecology Action Centre, David Suzuki Foundation, Oceana and the Sea Turtle Conservancy filed a formal objection today against the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) certification of Nova Scotia’s North West Atlantic Longline Swordfish Fishery.

This controversial fishery has been undergoing assessment against the MSC criteria since 2009, and in August 2011, the certifying company Moody Marine Ltd released a final report recommending the fishery for certification.

Pelagic longline fishing is an indiscriminate fishing method with high levels of bycatch, and is a leading cause of the collapse of shark and sea turtle populations worldwide. The Canadian longline swordfish fishery catches approximately 100,000 sharks and 1,400 sea turtles each year while landing 20,000 swordfish, which are sold through retailers in the United States.

The objection details numerous errors that have been made in the fishery assessment process, and asks that the fishery not be rewarded with MSC certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery until substantial changes have been made. These changes are required to reduce levels of threatened and endangered sharks and sea turtles caught and increase monitoring to ensure that this wasteful bycatch does not continue to contribute to the decline of these species.

In April 2011, 35 marine conservation organizations and over 800 individuals submitted letters to the MSC asking that the certification of this fishery not progress. With the submission of a formal objection, MSC is required to forward the matter to an independent adjudicator.

The Ecology Action Centre is launching a public campaign to help improve the credibility of the MSC certification process, with Hector the Blue Shark bicycling to MSC headquarters in London, England. The campaign will launch on Monday September 26th with press releases to be distributed on that date.

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