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Maine lobsters certified as sustainable by MSC
Published:  11 March, 2013

MAINE Governor Paul LePage and some of the state’s lobster fishermen have announced that the famous lobster fishery has been certified as sustainable by the MSC.

“The Marine Stewardship Council’s certification will provide the Maine lobster industry with a globally-recognized seal of approval,” said the Governor. “This certification recognizes our longstanding practices of good stewardship and ensures that every lobster caught in Maine waters can be marketed not only as delicious, healthy food, but also as a resource that meets the most stringent international environmental standard for seafood sustainability.”

Known officially as the American lobster, (Homarus americanus) the Maine lobster fishery predominantly occurs in Maine’s three mile territorial waters in the area designated as Lobster Conservation Management Area 1 (LCMA 1).  Fishermen use baited pots, which are lowered to the sea floor and are constructed to allow smaller lobsters to easily exit the trap. The fishery dates back several centuries, predating the United States of America, and is the backbone of the towns and villages dotting coastal Maine.

Patrick Keliher, Commissioner for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, said: “This is a great day for Maine’s lobster industry and the many communities it supports. We have a world-class, sustainably-harvested resource and we’re tremendously proud that it is receiving MSC certification and excited for the opportunities it provides.”

Maine lobsters grow new shells as many as 30 times and can be harvested once they reach a minimum size, either with a new shell or hard shell.  Those harvested with a new shell are sold primarily into local eateries and for processing while the hard-shell lobsters are shipped live to major retail and restaurant chains in the US, Europe and Asia. In 2012, landings of Maine lobster were approximately 57,000 metric tonnes, with a value in excess of half a billion dollars.

The Maine lobster fleet is comprised primarily of small vessels between 22 and 42 feet in length that are operated by one or two people. The number of Maine lobster fisherman has remained steady at approximately 6,700 licenses for more than half a century.

The client for the assessment and certification is the Fund for the Advancement of Sustainable Maine Lobster, and John Hathaway is the Chairman. “Today's seafood buyer ’expects’ their seafood to be sustainable,” said Hathaway. “MSC certification required Maine lobster to meet the most stringent sustainable seafood standards in the world. From this moment on, Maine lobster is no longer the ’sustainable secret’ of seafood."

Kerry Coughlin, Americas Regional Director, said:  “This is an historic day for the Maine lobster trap fishery and the Marine Stewardship Council.  Having one of the most famous and iconic fisheries in the world become MSC certified sends a powerful and positive message about confirming seafood sustainability to buyers and consumers around the world.  The Maine lobster fishery has operated for centuries and today’s announcement indicates the fishery’s commitment to be viable for centuries to come.”




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