Lobster Fishery Recertification Would Hurt Proper Whales, Mislead Customers

Washington, DC—Conservation teams acted immediately to guard the critically endangered North Atlantic proper whale by formally objecting to a suggestion that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) recertify the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery as sustainable. The certification is well known in grocery shops with a “blue fish tick” ecolabel.

The Gulf of Maine lobster fishery had its certification briefly suspended in 2020 after a federal choose dominated that the US authorities had violated the Endangered Species Act in authorizing the fishery. The certification was reinstated in 2021 by an industry-backed evaluation physique, MRAG, despite the fact that the fishery nonetheless posed a direct menace to proper whales.

MRAG’s newest suggestion to MSC to recertify the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery depends on protecting measures which can be inadequate (and never even in place). It ignores one of the best out there science, which signifies that the lobster fishery poses a deadly entanglement risk to this quickly declining whale species. That is at odds with each the ESA and Marine Mammal Safety Act.


The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Pure Assets Protection Council (NRDC), and Defenders of Wildlife articulated these considerations in a written objection submitted to the MSC, which triggers a multi-step course of. The objection can be evaluated by an unbiased adjudicator, who will both certify the fishery as sustainable or decline the certification

“If the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery was certified as sustainable at this time, consumers of MSC-certified lobster could be unknowingly hastening the demise of one of our most emblematic and endangered species,” mentioned Francine Kershaw, a senior scientist at NRDC. “There could not be a more blatant way to further erode consumer confidence in MSC as a certifying body.”

The MSC ecolabel has come under increasing scrutiny by marine scientists and conservationists who imagine that the MSC requirements enable fisheries with important marine wildlife bycatch issues to nonetheless be licensed. Labeling the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery as sustainable rewards administration’s failure to guard North Atlantic proper whales at a time when there may be renewed nationwide and worldwide attention on how lobster and crab fisheries hurt massive whales. Entanglements in business fishing gear, as an illustration, is the main trigger of great harm and loss of life in proper whales, hastening their general decline.


“It is unconscionable that the leading seafood certifier in the world would give its seal of approval to a fishery that poses grave threats to a critically endangered species,” mentioned Kate O’Connell, marine wildlife guide for AWI. “Given that MSC’s new fisheries standard—approved Friday—does not even require fisheries to achieve a progressive reduction in bycatch, the label is in serious jeopardy of losing its credibility.”

“The MSC label certifies to consumers that a fishery is complying with applicable laws and the best available scientific data,” mentioned Jane Davenport, a senior legal professional at Defenders of Wildlife. “Despite showing that the US government has ignored both the law and the science in authorizing this fishery, our concerns have fallen on deaf ears in MSC’s rush to recertify.”


Entanglement is a conservation concern with a viable treatment. MSC should do its half by encouraging fisheries to undertake sensible options, similar to on-demand fishing methods that get rid of the necessity for ropes to be suspended for lengthy intervals of time within the water, and by ceasing to certify fisheries that proceed to hurt endangered whales.

The Animal Welfare Institute (awionline.org) is a nonprofit charitable group based in 1951 and devoted to lowering animal struggling attributable to individuals. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, {industry}, and the general public to realize higher therapy of animals all over the place—within the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at dwelling, and within the wild. Observe us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and different vital animal safety information.


Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of defending all native animals and vegetation of their pure communities. With a nationwide community of practically 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a number one advocate for progressive options to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to return. For extra data, go to defenders.org/newsroom and observe us on Twitter @Defenders.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is a world nonprofit environmental group with greater than 3 million members and on-line activists. Since 1970, our attorneys, scientists, and different environmental specialists have labored to guard the world’s pure sources, public well being, and the surroundings. NRDC has workplaces in New York Metropolis, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Go to us at nrdc.org and observe us on Twitter @NRDC. 

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