Compliance News / Compliance

Atlantic Scallop Fishery Certified Sustainable

Industry Returns From the Brink

December 20, 2013

The U.S. Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) fishery, the most valuable fishery in the United States, was certified on Thursday as being in compliance with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable, well-managed fisheries.

The certification covers Atlantic sea scallops fished along the U.S. Atlantic coast from Maine to North Carolina by limited entry federal permit holders. The fleet accounts for 95 percent of the total U.S. scallop catch. 

The certification will allow the 14 member companies of the American Scallop Association (ASA) to display the blue MSC eco-label on catch from this fishery and to continue to sell to global customers who require certification. An independent, third-party Conformity Assessment Body conducted a rigorous, scientific, and stakeholder-engaged assessment and concluded that the U.S. Atlantic sea scallop fishery is "one of the best-documented and thoroughly researched scallop fisheries in the world."

"For too long, activists have blamed all of the ocean's woes on fishermen," says Ross Paasché, ASA President. "This certification provides solid evidence that fishermen are capable of being guardians of the ocean's future."

Such stewardship came after a threat of severe limitations on fishing by Federal regulators in the 1990s, causing the scallop industry to band together, seek assistance from their representatives in Congress, and to fund additional cooperative research by non-government academics. Today, Atlantic sea scallop vessel owners voluntarily contribute $10 million a year from their harvest to pay for ongoing scientific research on scallop populations.

"This is an American fisheries success story," notes Attorney John Whiteside, who represents the ASA and led the certification effort for the industry group. "This certification is further validation for the efforts of an industry that worked together to progress from the brink of oblivion to prosperity."

 Dr. Kevin Stokesbury, professor and chairman of the Department of Fisheries Oceanography at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) who served as the ASA's lead consultant through the three and one-half year review process says, "It's a well-managed fishery. It has come back to sustainable levels. The sort of cooperation offered by the scallop industry doesn't come along every day." 

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