MSC Certificate Remains Suspended for Gulf Of St. Lawrence Snow Crab Fishery

The MSC certificate for the Gulf of St. Lawrence (GOSL) snow crab trap fishery in Canada remains suspended today following an audit by certifier SAI Global (SAIG).  The annual surveillance audit included a full review of the fishery’s performance against the MSC Fisheries Standard as well as progress of the corrective action plan implemented following the suspension of the certificate on March 20, 2018.

The certifier concluded there is still not enough evidence to confirm that the measures implemented to mitigate the fishery’s impacts on endangered North Atlantic right whales (NARW) have been sufficiently effective. Despite the management measures implemented in 2018, the certifier determined that known direct effects of the fishery, defined as entanglements with the potential to result in mortality of individual whales, are likely to hinder recovery of the NARW population.

To lift the suspension the fishery must provide scientific evidence showing that:

  1. Known direct effects of the fishery are unlikely to hinder the recovery of endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species;
  2. The measures in place are highly likely to achieve national requirements for the protection of ETP species while considering that to reverse the declining trend of the North Atlantic right whale population, medium-long term benefits from these measures cannot be guaranteed based on a single season of protection measures.

As a result of the continued suspension, when the 2019 fishery opens in April, the landings from crab fishing areas 12, 12E, 12F and 19 cannot be sold as MSC certified or bear the blue MSC label.

Jay Lugar, Program Director for the MSC in Canada said: “We commend the GOSL snow crab fishery and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the incredible collective effort put forth to address impacts on the critical health of the North Atlantic right whale population.  The reduced entanglements and absence of mortalities in the 2018 fishing season are testaments to this work and we remain optimistic that continued efforts will demonstrate the fishery’s ability to once again meet the MSC Standard. We wish them every success.”

Under the terms of the suspension, annual surveillance audits are still required and the certificate will remain suspended until the issue is resolved. The suspension can only be lifted once the certifier conducts an audit and determines the fishery once again meets the MSC Standard.

SAIG initiated an expedited audit of the GOSL snow crab fishery on November 14, 2017 after review of published reports on the Gulf of St. Lawrence right whale mortalities and the fishery certificate was suspended on March 20, 2018. This most recent surveillance audit is the first regularly-scheduled audit for the fishery since being re-certified on October 10, 2017.

Suspension, not withdrawal

A fishery certificate suspension is not the same as a certificate withdrawal.  Certificate suspensions can be lifted upon completion of a Corrective Action Plan by the fishery and acceptance by the independent certifier that the fishery once again meets the MSC Standard.
The annual audit report is available on the fishery’s Track a Fishery page under Recently uploaded documents.