Sustainable Fisheries

Our work to ensure a healthy and robust future for the seafood industry in our province is of utmost importance. With certifications such as MSC, we’re committed to a sustainable fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

MSC is a globally-recognized program for wild, sustainable seafood. The rigorous 18-month assessment looks at all aspects of the fishery to ensure compliance with internationally-accepted sustainability principles for sustainable fish stocks; ecosystem input, and effective fisheries management. Certification means greater market access and benefits for Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries.

The MSC ecolabel on a seafood product means that:

  • It comes from a wild-catch fishery that has been independently certified to the MSC science-based standard for environmentally sustainable fishing

  • It’s fully traceable to a sustainable source

ASP is a managing client and/or client in 5 MSC certified fisheries:

The snow crab fishery was certified in 2013. It was the 200th fishery to be certified by MSC and is the province’s highest value fishery, and one of Canada’s most valuable.

The fishery operates in four areas and uses baited conical crab traps. Harvesting starts in early spring depending on the area and fishing season. Weather and the presence of ice is a large factor affecting the start of the season, which is also timed to avoid the mating period and reduce the catch of soft shell crab. The fishery is effectively male-only, as female crabs generally do not achieve the minimum legal catch size.

Traps feature twine mesh, regulated to a minimum size of 5 ¼ inches to select male crabs greater than or equal to 95 mm CW. Smaller snow crabs are able to escape through the twine mesh.

The Canadian Northern Shrimp fishery was certified in 2008 and was the first fishery in Canada to receive MSC certification.

Close to 300 vessels operate in the Canadian Northern and Striped Shrimp fisheries. They use demersal (bottom) otter trawls, with a minimum mesh size of 40mm. Nets are fitted with a Nordmore separator grate. Shrimp pass through the grate, but other fish are directed upwards to an exit window in the upper panel. The grate is mandatory in all fishing areas, and serves to keep by catch to a minimum.

This fishery is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and was certified in 2009. 

Most of the fishing is conducted by otter trawlers ranging in length from 16.7 m (55 feet) to 27.4 m (90 feet). The trawl gear uses a mesh size of at least 40mm to allow undersized shrimp to escape. A device called a Nordmore separator grate enables other species to escape, so bycatch is almost zero.

This fishery was certified at the same time as northern shrimp, and covers the Scotian Shelf off of Nova Scotia.

It involves 395 vessels in the range of 15-20m. The fishery uses otter trawls with a minimum mesh size of 40mm, and fitted with a Nordmore separator grate. Prawns pass through the grate, but other groundfish are directed upwards to an exit triangle in the upper panel. This grate is mandatory in all the fishing areas.Nets are designed to float just above the seafloor, to allow species such as flatfish to pass below the net entrance.

The Greenland halibut (turbot) fishery was certified in 2019. 

The sustainability certification applies to Greenland halibut harvested by trawl or gillnet from areas extending from the Northeast coast of Nunavut, along the east coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, as far as south as the Grand Banks.

ASP shares a number of certifications with other industry associations and producers. Additional sustainability work is also being done through Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs) for 2J3KL cod and lobster.