Washington, D.C. – Prestige Oyster Texas and Louisiana private oyster fishery achieved MSC certification today, marking a first for a wild oyster fishery in the Americas to achieve certification. The certification comes following a rigorous 10-month assessment carried out by independent, third party assessor MRAG Americas, to ensure the fishery meets the MSC fisheries standard, including ensuring sustainable fish stocks; minimizing environmental impact, and ensuring there are responsive management systems in place. MSC certification recognizes and rewards sustainable fishing practices and is helping create a more sustainable seafood market.
“Oysters play an integral part in a healthy ocean environment, so having an oyster fishery committed to the long term health of the wild oyster population by gaining MSC certification is a win for a healthy ocean,” said Brian Perkins, MSC Regional Director, Americas. “This is especially timely given the threats facing the ocean from climate change. Congratulations to Prestige Oysters on this achievement.”
“Prestige is proud to lead the industry in sustainable oyster harvesting. MSC certification is a testament to our fishery, for the past two years we have gone up against the rigorous standards of the MSC and to be the first certified oyster fishery in the Americas is an immensely proud feeling. I want to thank both Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for their assistance through this process. A special thank you to Laura Picariello at Texas SeaGrant for her guidance and commitment to this project. Certification would not have been possible without the dedicated, hardworking men and women of these institutions. Sustainable harvesting has always been at the core of my company, and now with MSC certification, consumers can trust that Prestige Oysters are harvested in the most sustainable practices. Over the past decade, we have seen initiatives from foodservice to retail customers to source MSC certified seafood, and I excited to offer that demand.”
The American cupped oyster (Crassostrea virginica) are wild oysters native to Texas and Louisiana and are harvested by boat dredges on private leases. Private leases may contain oyster reefs that are either natural or constructed from deposition of cultch (oyster shell, limestone, concrete, etc.) placed on soft bottom in suitable depths for oyster growth. Without additional cultch or natural growth of oysters that provides dead shell, the reefs would disappear over time, leaving little impact on the marine environment.
Oysters play an important role in the marine ecosystem, as both a habitat for a variety of sessile plants and animals and free-swimming fish and shellfish, and as filter feeder because they feed upon phytoplankton (algae)[i]. The Texas and Louisiana Oyster fishery is certified through 2024 and can enter reassessment after the five year period. During the five-year certification, the fishery must undergo annual surveillance audits in order to ensure their ongoing compliance with the MSC requirements.
The MSC standard was established in 1997 and is the only wild caught seafood standard and ecolabeling program to meet United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) guidelines as well as meet Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) benchmarking criteria. The standards used to evaluate fisheries have been developed in deliberation with scientists, industry, and conservation groups, and reflect the most up-to-date fisheries science and management practices.
The MSC fishery standards are based on three core principles that every fishery must meet:
- Sustainable fish stocks: Fishing activity must be at a level which ensures it can continue indefinitely.
- Minimizing environmental impact: Fishing operations must be managed to maintain the structure, productivity, function, and diversity of the ecosystem.
- Effective Management: The fishery must comply with relevant laws and have a management system that is responsive to changing circumstances.
About the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization. Our vision is for the world’s oceans to be teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations. Our blue label and certification program recognizes and rewards sustainable fishing practices and is helping create a more sustainable seafood market.
The blue MSC label on a seafood product means that:
- It comes from a wild-catch fishery which has been independently certified to the MSC’s science-based standard for environmentally sustainable fishing.
- It’s fully traceable to a sustainable source.
More than 300 fisheries in over 34 countries are certified to the MSC’s Standard. These fisheries have a combined annual seafood production of 12 million metric tons, representing 15% of global marine catch. More than 35,000 seafood products worldwide carry the MSC label. For more information visit msc.org