Southern Red King crab fishery seeks MSC certification

March 16, 2010 10:21

The Southern Red King crab (Lithodes santolla) bottom trap pot fishery operating within the Federal Waters of the Argentine Economic Exclusive Zone is entering full assessment in the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) certification program for sustainable and well-managed fisheries, reports with reference to MSC.

 The fishery will be assessed against the MSC standard and, if successful, its products will be eligible to bear the blue MSC ecolabel recognizing products from well-managed sources. Southern Red King crab is also known as Red King Crab or Crabbe Royale in some markets.
About the Southern Red King crab fishery

The government management bodies overseeing the fishery are the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and Fisheries dependencies (sub-secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture), and the Federal Fisheries Council (CFP). After nearly five years of experimental fishing in association with the National Research Fisheries Institute (INIDEP), the crab fishery opened commercially in November 2008 to Centomar S.A. and one other fishing company with each operating two factory vessels. Centomar S.A. and Nova Fisheries, which markets the products, are the clients for this assessment.
What the fishery says

"From the beginning, our in-house scientists cooperated with federal and provincial scientists, and in 2006, began working toward meeting the high standards set by the Marine Stewardship Council," said Alexander Merebashvilli, Centomar's general manager. "Centomar S.A. is committed to further defining and protecting this resource. We believe that MSC certification will help to identify this resource with other fisheries around the world making thoughtful decisions about how they fish and what they take."

"We have been excited about the Southern Red King crab fishery because it provided us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide careful and thoughtful resource management from day one to an undeveloped virgin fishery," said Robert Simon, president of Nova Fisheries.

The Southern Red King crab fishery had a recent 12 month catch of 600 metric tonnes. Products produced from the fishery are clusters, meros (fourth leg segment to third), flesh and claws but more often, value-added crab forms, in shell, as well as meat. These products are sold in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Holland, Italy, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States.
What the MSC says

"Crab is an important seafood in markets globally and we're pleased to see this South American crab fishery join an increasing number of fisheries in that part of the world participating in the MSC program," said MSC Americas Regional Director Kerry Coughlin. "As a relatively new fishery, if they successfully complete the assessment and gain certification, Nova Fisheries and its Argentine partners have a chance to demonstrate the clear benefits of designing sustainability into fisheries management from the outset."
About the certifier

The full assessment is expected to take approximately 12 months to complete. The clients have contracted with MSC-accredited certification company Organización Internacional Agropecuaria (OIA) to conduct the independent, third-party assessment. OIA will convene a team of scientific experts to evaluate the fishery based on the three core principles of the MSC's standard: the sustainability of the fish stock, its impact on the environment and the management system in place.

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