Baja California red rock lobster fishery receives MSC re-certification for expanded area

The Baja California red rock lobster (Panulirus interruptus) fishery off the coast of Baja California, Mexico has been re-certified following independent assessment to the MSC standard for sustainable, well-managed fisheries. This fishery was certified as sustainable from 2004 to 2009, and products from the fishery are now again eligible to bear the blue MSC ecolabel, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to Marine Stewardship Council.

As part of the re-certification the geographic area covered by the certificate was expanded. The Unit of Certification originally extended from Cedros Island in Baja California through Punta Abreojos in Baja California Sur, and now also includes Isla Guadalupe approximately 250 km off the west coast of Baja California.
About the Baja California red rock lobster fishery

The Baja California red rock lobster fishery was the first Latin American and first community-based, developing world artisanal fishery certified to the MSC standard. More than 500 artisanal fishermen from 10 cooperatives participate in the fishery.  These 10 cooperatives are part of the Federación Regional de Sociedades Cooperativas de la Industria Pesquera Baja California (FEDECOOP) which is serving as the client for this fishery. 

The 10 cooperatives operating in the central region of the Baja California peninsula catch approximately 80 percent of the total catch of this species nationally. Together they operate 232 vessels and use approximately 15,635 traps each season to harvest the lobster. The total catch for the last five seasons (2005-2010) for the central fishing region is approximately 1,400 metric tons.

The fishermen sell most of the catch live, but can also sell whole cooked frozen lobster, whole raw frozen lobster, or frozen lobster tails. About 90 percent of the product is exported mostly to Asia. The United States and France constitute a small proportion of the exports. The remaining 10 percent is sold domestically mainly to restaurants.
What the fishery says

"The re-certification of the fishery involved researchers, managers and users of the fishery, among others, in a scheme of co-management," said Edgar Aguilar, president of FEDECOOP.  "Maintaining the MSC standard not only permits access to preferential markets, but confirms the lobster population will be maintained at levels that permit sustainable development in the fishing communities of Baja California."
What World Wildlife Fund (WWF) U.S. says

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) U.S. provided technical and financial support to the fishery through the initial assessment process from 2003-2004. Meredith Lopuch, director of the Major Buyer Initiative (Fisheries), for WWF-US says, "We are pleased to see the re-certification of the Baja California red rock lobster fishery as it will lead to further improvements in the sustainable management of the fishery. By continuing with certification, the fishery is showing a strong commitment to sustainable fishing practices, and continues to be a good example to other community-based artisanal fisheries to adopt sustainable practices."
What Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI) A.C. says

Since 2000 Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI) A.C., a Mexican marine conservation organization, promoted and accompanied FEDECOOP in obtaining its original MSC certification. "The great lesson learned from this fishery is that by granting communities with territorial users' rights-as the Baja California red rock lobster fishery has-they can become an exemplary model of fishers' stewardship towards the ocean," said Dr. Andrea Saenz-Arroyo, COBI's science and Baja California program director. "For us it is an honour to keep working together with this group of outstanding cooperatives in developing models of ocean stewardship that can be applied elsewhere in the world."
What the MSC says

"The Baja California red rock lobster fishery is a wonderful example of a certified sustainable artisanal fishery," said Kerry Coughlin, regional director for MSC Americas. "Many generations of families have maintained their livelihoods from this fishery, and MSC is pleased that certification confirms they will be able to pass this heritage, and sustainable fishing techniques, on to future generations."
About the certifier

Scientific Certification Systems was the certifier for this assessment and the original certification. During the assessment, the three principles of the MSC standard were evaluated in detail: the status of the fish stock, the impact of the fishery on the marine ecosystem and the management system overseeing the fishery. More information about the Baja California red rock lobster fishery and the complete Public Certification Report detailing the fishery's passing scores against the MSC standard can be found on MSC's web site at www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/certified.

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