Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

First herring fishery in Canada achieves MSC certification


Source: Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador NAFO Division 4R Atlantic herring purse seine fishery has achieved MSC certification, becoming the first herring fishery in Canada to attain certification as sustainable and well-managed against the science-based MSC standard. Following an independent assessment conducted by Intertek Fisheries Certification (IFC), Atlantic herring products sourced from the client group, Barry Group Inc. (BGI), are now eligible to bear the blue MSC ecolabel.

About the Atlantic herring purse seine fishery

The certified fishery encompasses herring purse seiners targeting Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) off the west coast of Newfoundland in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The area is managed by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) with the specific area of operation located between Cape Bauld and Cape Ray in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Division 4R.

Atlantic herring in NAFO Division 4R is comprised of two distinct stock components: spring and fall spawners. The herring purse seine fishery operates April through December, depending on weather and sea ice conditions. Recent Total Allowable Catches (TAC) set by the DFO for herring in 4R are 20,000 tonnes and the MSC certified purse seine fleet component is about 11,000 tonnes.

Management measures in place include a detailed monitoring and surveillance system, closed area and season restrictions, minimum landing sizes and avoidance of non-target species with applied echo sounding technology. Atlantic herring are primarily exported as cured, frozen, fresh, smoked, roe, sardines and canned. Products from this fishery are predominantly sold to the United States, Western Europe and Japan.

Strong commitment to sustainability demonstrated

Karl Sullivan, senior vice president of BGI, said, “The certification of this fishery to the MSC standard is the culmination of the hard work and collaboration of the fishers, the Barry Group and the DFO management teams. It demonstrates the strong commitment of the Newfoundland and Labrador herring purse seine fishery to operate in a sustainable manner to protect livelihoods, minimize ecosystem impact and maintain stock abundance for this and future generations.”

Established assurance of sustainability

Jay Lugar, MSC fisheries outreach manager, said, “We congratulate the Barry Group's Atlantic herring purse seine fishery as the first herring fishery in Canada to achieve MSC certification, leading the way and establishing assurance that products sourced from this fishery are traceable to a sustainable and well-managed fishery.”

About the assessment and certification

Intertek Fisheries Certification (IFC), an independently accredited certifier, was the certifier for this assessment against the MSC standard. During the 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. More information about the Atlantic herring purse seine fishery and the complete Public Certification Report detailing the fishery’s passing scores against the MSC standard can be found on MSC’s web site at

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