Demonstrating a continuous commitment to sustainable fishing practices, the Ocean Choice International (OCI) Grand Bank Yellowtail Flounder Fishery has been re-certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fishery Standard as being sustainable and well managed.
Over its first five year period of certification, to continue to meet the MSC’s robust Standard, the fishery worked to meet nine conditions for improvement, including reducing bycatch and minimizing damage to marine habitats. Their success in achieving these conditions demonstrates that MSC certification helps to provide an effective path to continued positive change on our oceans.
“We take great pride in ensuring all our fisheries operate in a responsible and sustainable manner and we are pleased with the re-certification of yellowtail flounder,“ said Blaine Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of OCI. “As a global leader in responsible management and sustainable fisheries we continue our efforts and commitment as stewards of our oceans and marine environment.”
Harvested on Newfoundland’s historic Grand Banks, the yellowtail flounder fishery was previously a mixed fishery combining yellowtail flounder, American plaice and cod. The fishery has been solidly re-building since a low resource period in the 1990s and achieved MSC certification as a sustainable fishery in 2010. Since then the fishery has maintained the yellowtail flounder stock well above sustainable biological levels, and also implemented new measures to further reduce impacts on American plaice and cod, which remain under moratorium. Bycatch of these two species has consistently remained well below allowable levels, which enables these stocks to continue on a positive path to regrowth.
The yellowtail flounder fishery has also implemented technological improvements to its otter trawling gear adding new ‘flying doors’ and using elevated sweeps designed to minimize bottom contact. The estimates of the seafloor area contacted by the new gear have dropped by over one-half from previous years – a clear benefit to benthic habitats and organisms. The fishery also continues to observe a six-week closure from mid-June to early August to respect peak spawning season and maintain product quality.
“We are extremely pleased that OCI has renewed its commitment to the MSC program for another five years,” said Jay Lugar, Program Director for MSC in Canada. “The improvements made in the yellowtail flounder fishery are exemplary and are an expression of OCI’s commitment to a sustainable future for the entire Grand Banks ecosystem. We applaud their efforts and look forward to their continued engagement in the program for many more years to come.”
The yellowtail flounder fishery operates on the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland, in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) Divisions 3L, 3N and 3O. Total allowable catch is currently 17,000 tonnes, 97.5 per cent of which is held by Canada with OCI owing 91.07% of the Canadian quotas. This specie is sold globally and is recognized as a versatile consumer favorite in both retail and foodservice markets.