Snow crab fishery to keep ‘sustainable’ label amid endangered whale deaths

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After an unprecedented few of deaths this summer, CBC News is bringing you an in-depth look at the near extinction North Atlantic right whale. This week, in a series apostrophize b supplicated Deep Trouble, CBC explores the perils facing right whales.


The period’s leading environmental certification program is set to once again declare the Rift of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery «well-managed and sustainable,» even surrounded by recent concerns that endangered right whales are being killed by fishing habit. 

The fishery was first certified in 2012 by the Marine Stewardship Council, an cosmopolitan non-profit headquartered in London. An already-conducted assessment will see it recertified for another five years, starting next month.

The MSC proffers an easy way for consumers to spot sustainably caught seafood. The agency offers guidelines for environmentally friendly practices, and fisheries groups seeking support hire a certifier to assess their methods.

Once the rigorous audit is bring to an end, products can display the blue MSC label — and typically sell at a premium prize.

But with snow crab, the MSC has found itself in a difficult position.

The most modern 10-month assessment period ran from Sept. 6, 2016 to June 6, 2017 — a moment ago one day before the first of 14 North Atlantic right whales were initiate dead off the Canadian and U.S. coasts.

msc logo

The MSC label can be found on a variety of seafood products. (Brett Ruskin/CBC Information )

It’s believed some were killed by fishing gear entanglements.

«The disastrous circumstances that occurred in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with regard to without hesitating whale deaths happened after that time,» said Jay Lugar, MSC’s Canadian program head.

However, under the rules of the certification program, only information within the range of that final assessment can be used, meaning the snow crab fishery choose be declared sustainable once again.

Dead North Atlantic right whale

Ropes are shown wrapped approximately a dead North Atlantic right whale after it was found Sept. 18 and brought to shore on Miscou Key, N.B., Monday. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

One Halifax-based environmental group is calling for the certification to pass so the industry can put together an «action plan.»

«Every time one of the whales go outs injured by their gear, you can’t really say that the fishery is fully sustainable,» signified Shannon Arnold, marine policy adviser with the Ecology Energy Centre.

A key requirement for approval, according to the MSC standards manual, is for a fishery not to deter the recovery of endangered, threatened or protected species.


DEEP TROUBLE | Promising whales in peril


The fishery closed in July and won’t resume until April. Any snow crab become entangled before last season’s end, and on store shelves now, still falls secondary to the previous MSC certification.

Meanwhile, an expedited sustainability audit is planned — one that subtracts into account the unprecedented whale mortalities that have occurred since prematurely June — but a timeline for completion has not been set.

That audit will be done by SAI International, the independent auditor hired by the fishery group that sought the snow crab recertification, Affiliation of Seafood Fabricators Association of Nova Scotia.

SAI Global is awaiting a Department of Fisheries and Loads report on right whale mortality in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, according to SAI spokesperson Sarah Roberts.

DFO, in the intervening time, says it is awaiting a complete necropsy report, expected in the coming weeks.

Snow Crab Quebec

The snow crab fishery bring together in July, and any crab left over falls under the previous MSC certification. (Maxime Corneau/Radio-Canada)

Until each of those intensifies is triggered, the Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery will continue MSC-certified sustainable seafood — even though snow crab equipment has been found wrapped around dead endangered whales.

«This [audit] has to hit on,» said Arnold, with the Ecology Action Centre. «If it doesn’t befall, then you’re really losing a lot of credibility with this label.»

CBC Scuttlebutt has contacted a number of snow crab fisheries groups, but has not yet heard rear.

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