St. John’s, Nfld. – Newfoundland’s only commercial cod fishery has entered full assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard.
Icewater Seafoods Inc. and Ocean Choice International (OCI) are leading the MSC assessment.
Both companies are members of a client group that supported a WWF-led Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) on the southern Newfoundland cod fishery, which is commonly referred to as 3Ps, its NAFO statistical area designation. NAFO is the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization.
The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW), Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada were also key supporters of the project.
“This milestone for the 3Ps fishery is of huge historical significance,” says David Miller, president and CEO of WWF Canada.
“It demonstrates that good management and collaboration can lead to the recovery of cod populations – and that struggling fisheries can once again thrive, not only in Atlantic Canada but across the world.”
In January 2011, WWF and Icewater started Canada’s first FIP in the 3Ps cod fishery. With most of the cod stocks in the region still depleted or slowly recovering from collapse in the 1990s, the project set out an aggressive conservation action plan over a 3-year period.
The MSC assessment is timely given the outcome of the 2013 stock assessment by Fisheries and Oceans Canada showing a positive biomass trajectory for the next three years.
“WWF’s commitment to the recovery of Newfoundland cod fisheries combined with its international network made [the organization] a logical choice for Icewater to partner with on Fisheries Improvement,” says Alberto Wareham, CEO of Icewater Seafoods.
“WWF is also working to ensure all seafood supplies are from sustainable sources – including Newfoundland cod.”
Critical funding for the FIP came from the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Resources Legacy Fund, High Liner and WWF.
Other stakeholders include Loblaws and Marks & Spencer, as well as the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University and the Marine Stewardship Council.
Icewater and OCI purchase cod from up to 420 independent fish harvesters in 3Ps, many of which are from rural communities where fishing remains the foundation of their economies.
If certified, the 3Ps cod fishery will join more than 320 other fisheries engaged in the MSC program worldwide, over 220 of which have achieved certification.