Auditors recommend MSC certification for Atlantic menhaden
Independent certification body SAI Global has officially recommended that the Atlantic menhaden purse seine fishery be certified sustainable against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fisheries standard.
â€˜Weâ€™re very pleased with todayâ€™s recommendation, which takes us right up to the finish line of the MSC certification process,â€™ said Bret Scholtes, President and CEO of Omega Protein.
â€˜As we complete this process, we will continue working collaboratively with independent certifiers and our management partners to ensure a healthy and sustainable fishery.â€™
The assessment report points out that the fishery has a comprehensive fishery management plan and menhaden-specific conservation and management measures in place. It also praises the extensive research surveys and monitoring of both the Mid-Atlantic ecosystem and the Atlantic menhaden stock, among the fisheryâ€™s other strengths.
As part of the certification process, and as part of its commitment to menhadenâ€™s long-term sustainability, Omega Protein has agreed to work with its management partners at the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) on three sustainability objectives.
To achieve these objectives, the Company is supporting the ASMFCâ€™s development of a harvest strategy and new rules that take into consideration the ecological role of Atlantic menhaden. The ASMFC has spent the past several years developing new Ecological Reference Points, a process that is expected to conclude later in 2019.
The Company will also work with NMFS on efforts to improve the frequency of observer coverage, making sure bycatch and interactions with marine mammals and endangered, threatened, and protected species remain at minimal levels. In letters to SAI Global, NMFS and the ASMFC promised to take an active role in accomplishing these objectives.
Omega Protein Corporation is a century old nutritional product company that is a division of Cooke Inc., a family owned fishery company based in New Brunswick, Canada.
Omega Protein operates seven manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada and Europe. The Company also has a long-term supply contract with Alpha VesselCo, LLC which owns 30 vessels which harvest menhaden, which is abundant off the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
The Atlantic menhaden fishery has long been found to be healthy and sustainable. According to the ASMFC, the resource is currently not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. Additionally, Atlantic menhaden has not been overfished since the 1960s. Due to the strength of the coastwide stock, the ASMFC raised the quota for Atlantic menhaden every year between 2015 and 2017.
Following the publication of the final report, registered stakeholders and peer reviewers will have 15 working days (until March 27) to raise an objection to the reportâ€™s conclusions. If objections are filed, they will be evaluated by an independent adjudicator, which will lead to a final decision. If there are no objections, the fishery will be certified.
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