British Columbia Fisheries Achieve Marine
Stewardship Council (MSC) Certification
On September 30, 2009 the Canada Pacific halibut fishery of British Columbia passed its assessment to earn Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for being a sustainable and well-managed fishery. During 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.
It was the first fishery in British Columbia to earn this distinction.
The hook-and-line fishery catches Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis), a large flatfish that ranges offshore of California, northward to the Bering Sea and westward into Russian and Japanese waters. British Columbia halibut products are sold to the United States, Europe and across Canada, and are available fresh or frozen as whole fish, steaks, boneless fillets, roasts, and cheeks.
On October 21, 2009 the Pacific hake mid-water trawl fishery earned MSC certification.
This fishery is the largest on the west coast of both the United States and Canada. Pacific hake (Merluccius productus, also commonly known as Pacific whiting) is sold internationally, with North America, Europe and Asia being the foremost markets. This popular whitefish has long been used in producing surimi and more recently has filled an important niche in the frozen fillet, dressed and whole fish block markets.
In March 2010, the British Columbia albacore tuna fishery earned MSC certification.
Albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) is a highly migratory tuna found in all of the global oceans. Two separate and distinct stocks of albacore exist in the Pacific. The North Pacific albacore tuna fishing season runs from May through October. The troll method involves towing artificial lures with barbless hooks behind a vessel moving at about six knots. The fishery operates in international waters and within the Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In Canadian waters it is managed through the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). When fishing in international waters, the fishery occurs within the jurisdiction of both the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission and the Western and Central Pacific Ocean Fisheries Commission.
Albacore tuna is sold in Canada, the United States and the EU (primarily Spain). Blast-frozen tuna is sold to the sushi/sashimi market in Japan and North America.
In July 2010, all British Columbia sockeye salmon fisheries earned MSC certification. The Barkley Sound, Nass, Skeena and Fraser River fisheries are now certified as sustainable.
After one to five years in the ocean, sockeye salmon (Onchorhyncus nerka) return to their native stream to spawn. Spawning generally occurs in the late summer or fall. Sockeye salmon is a sought-after species; products from British Columbia are sold internationally, mainly to the US, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
On July 29, 2010, the sablefish fishery of British Columbia earned MSC certification.
The fishery operates within the Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The sablefish fishery is a part of the Groundfish Integration Program, and all licensed sablefish vessels are equiped with 100% at sea monitoring.
Seventy-five per cent of all sablefish originating from BC is sold to Japan. Sablefish products are also exported to the United States, Europe, China, and the Middle East.
Sablefish fillets, steaks, and other products are also sold domestically.
On July 28, 2011 the British Columbia pink salmon fishery earned MSC certification. The certification covers all current commercial fisheries for pink salmon in Canadian Pacific EEZ and British Columbia coastal waters.
As a species, pink salmon return to spawn primarily on two-year cycles, and in British Columbia the largest runs return on odd-years.
Seines catch 90-95 percent of the pink salmon harvest with troll and gillnet harvesting the rest. Commercial fishing is regulated by licenses issued by DFO, which also regulates the season, gear types, hook style, net dimensions, bycatch and catch limits.
Pink salmon is available as canned, smoked, fresh and frozen products. Primary export markets include the United Kingdom, Belgium and New Zealand.
On September 13, 2011 the British Columbia spiny dogfish fishery earned MSC certification.
The certification covers the hook and line commercial fishery for spiny dogfish in the North East Pacific Ocean – Outside Migratory Stock (Areas 3C, 3D, 5ABCD & 5E) and Inside stock (Area 4B). All licensed spiny dogfish vessels are equipped with 100% electronic/camera at-sea monitoring and undergo full catch accountability and dockside monitoring.
The hook and line fishery accounts for 92% of the spiny dogfish harvest and the trawl fishery landing the remainder. Spiny dogfish is available fresh and frozen; its primary export markets are the United Kingdom, Western Europe and Asia.