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Sustainability and Traceability

Consumers and trade buyers are more aware than ever of the long-term footprint of fish and seafood products. People are increasingly seeking out fish and seafood independently verified as being from legal and sustainable fisheries.

In seafood, sustainability certification is an industry-led, voluntary process that proves a fishery is well-managed and sustainable regardless of size, type or location. 97% of Canadian lobsters come from fisheries independently-certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, which ensures Canadian lobsters are sustainable and traceable..

Some countries require proof that fish and seafood imports are not illegal or from unreported or unregulated fisheries, and most certifications use a chain of custody to track products throughout the supply chain.

Sustainability Certification

Eco-certification is a voluntary independent review of fisheries and stock sustainability. If a fishery is assessed by a third party at an internationally-accepted standard, that fishery can use an eco-label to distinguish itself in the market, and supply chain companies handling the product can also promote the label as long as they have a chain of custody certificate. As demand for sustainable products increases, eco-certification is a highly appealing, valuable feature that fosters strong ties to global consumers.

MSC certification

The Canadian lobster sector works with the renowned Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to support sustainable fishing and safeguards our seafood for the future, incorporating all inshore Lobster Fishing Area’s (LFAs) in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island. The Canadian offshore fishery has been certified since 2010.

Using evidence-based MSC standards, a team of experts review submitted fisheries to ensure they maintain optimal stocks, minimize environmental impact, and manage effectively for healthy balance. Certified fisheries are audited annually to maintain the highest standards.

FAQ

What do I need to do to sell my lobster as MSC-certified?

For those who buy at the wharf and only sell to other local companies that process or export lobster:

  • Join the NS/NB or PEI Eco-certification Society (a sharing agreement will allow for access to lobster from each province and an agreement is being considered with the client groups in the state of Maine)
  • Ensure the paperwork that accompanies your sales confirms the origin of the lobster (by LFA and by port)
  • Companies buying at the wharf who only sell locally do not require an MSC Chain of Custody certificate unless they also ship outside the region.

For those who buy at the wharf and export or sell lobster outside the fishery client group:

  • Join the NS/NB Eco-certification Society
  • Call an independent certifier to schedule an audit for an MSC Chain of Custody certificate

For processors, live shippers, and exporters who sell products to a customer who wants to receive it as MSC-certified— or who sell to consumers:

  • Join the NS/NB or the PEI Eco-certification Society
  • Call an independent certifier to schedule an audit for an MSC Chain of Custody certificate

If you do any of the above and wish to use the MSC ecolabel, contact the MSC to arrange for an Ecolabel User License.

What are the roles and responsibilities for everyone in the lobster sector?

  • Harvesters: Support your association’s efforts as a member of the fishery client group (Society), participate in any new requests for information arising from the MSC certificate and conditions, and continue to fish sustainably in accordance with all DFO rules.
  • Harvester Association: Continue to belong to and support the Eco-certification Society in your area and work with your harvesters to deliver information arising from the MSC certificate and conditions.
  • Buyer/dealer with Chain of Custody certificate: Contact an independent certifier to become MSC Chain of Custody certified (information is at msc.org), and follow chain of custody rules for purchasing, holding and selling MSC-certified lobster.
  • Other buyer/dealers: Join the Eco-certification Society in your area, keep good records of your purchases, and supply the required information to your customer for their Chain of Custody certificate requirements.
  • Processor/live shipper: Contact an independent certifier for information about Chain of Custody (or look at msc.org), and follow MSC CoC rules for purchasing, holding and selling MSC-certified lobster. Require buyers/dealers who are members of one of the Eco-certification Societies but who do not have a CoC certificate to confirm the lobster came from a certified fishery.

What is the cost to become certified?

The Fisheries Certificate is an annual fee payable to the NS/NB or the PEI Lobster Eco-certification Societies depending on your province. The fee may vary for dealers/buyers, processors, harvesters, or live shippers.

An independent Chain of Custody audit is between $1,500 – $2,500 annually.

There is also a cost to use the MSC ecoloabel, payable to MSC. Contact chris.bolwig@msc.org.

  • The annual flat fee for wholesale and promotion is £160, £800 or £1,600 depending on size of your business
  • Any consumer-facing packaging requires a royalty charge of 0.5% of wholesale sales value in addition to the flat fee.

For more information, please contact a Chain of Custody certifier and refer to Public Certification Reports for these fisheries found on www.msc.org.

For general questions about MSC contact:

Jay Lugar
(902) 492-2469 or (902) 456 5647 or jay.lugar@msc.org

For eco-certification in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, contact:

Geoff Irvine, The Lobster Council of Canada
(902) 497 9128 or geoff.irvine@lobstercouncilcanada.ca

For Prince Edward Island, contact:

Ian MacPherson, PEIFA
(902) 566-4050 or managerpeifa@pei.eastlink.ca

To arrange an audit of your facility for Chain of Custody, contact one of the companies below: