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Quebec Bulletin
August - September 2013/Volume 16/Number 4

Magdalen Islands Lobster Fishery Certified as Sustainable

Fishing harbour in Magdalen Islands
Fishing harbour in Magdalen Islands

The Association des pêcheurs propriétaires des Îles-de-la-Madeleine (APPIM) obtained certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) on July 18, 2013, confirming that its fishing activities are sustainable. This recognition was granted after the Irish consultant group Global Trust Certification conducted an assessment of the Magdalen Islands lobster fishery. The assessment process officially began in August 2012.

The company that conducted the assessment ensured that fishery management and supporting scientific knowledge met the assessment criteria defined by the MSC. These criteria are based on three principles:

  1. Sustainable fish stocks;
  2. Minimizing environmental impact; and
  3. Effective management.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada worked closely with the APPIM and Global Trust to ensure that all scientific and management information related to the Magdalen Islands lobster fishery was clear, complete and made available to assessors. The effective management of lobster fishing in Quebec has been recognized several times in recent years, including by the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, which recognized the steps taken by the Quebec industry as noteworthy in its 2007 Sustainability Framework for Atlantic Lobster. The MSC certification confirms that scientific research and lobster management in Quebec is continuing to move in the right direction.

Despite the positive assessment results, this certification was granted according to certain conditions, including an assessment of sources of uncertainty in developing decision rules, increasing the precision of data on bycatch in the lobster fishery, and developing a research plan for lobster that supports the MSC's first two principles. The APPIM must work with DFO to ensure it adheres to these conditions to maintain its certification.

Certification is a critical marketing tool that could help the industry stand out. However, considerable work remains to be done to reap all the benefits this certification can offer the industry. For example, producers must also obtain certification for their supply chain to be able to use the MSC logo and thereby guarantee to consumers that the lobster is in fact from the Magdalen Islands and therefore MSC certified.

This certification is a clear recognition of the efforts made by Area 22 lobster fishers over the past few decades to ensure sustainable harvesting of lobster, a central resource in the Magdalen Islands' development.

Sylvette Leblanc, Acting Area Director
Magdalen Islands Area

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