Major new supply of certified sustainable seafood available from Oregon, Washington and California commercial fishermen - KOAM TV 7

Major new supply of certified sustainable seafood available from Oregon, Washington and California commercial fishermen

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SOURCE Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

SEATTLE, June 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of commercial fishermen in California, Oregon and Washington will now provide markets and consumers along the West Coast with a new supply of U.S. seafood that has been certified to the most respected international standard for seafood sustainability, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).  The announcement of MSC certification of 13 species of fish, including rockfish, sablefish and Dover sole, with an estimated landed value in excess of $20,000,000 and landings over 41 million pounds in 2013, was made simultaneously in Portland, Oregon and Eureka, California. 

Speaking on behalf of the client group that entered the fisheries into assessment, Brad Pettinger, Director of the Oregon Trawl Commission, said: "MSC certification of this fishery is really a renewal of the social contract that we have with the public, providing assurance that we are fishing sustainably and in a manner that is consistent with the public's high expectation."

Commercial fisherman Paul Kujala, from Astoria, Oregon, hailed the news as significant for the fishery, families and communities all along the West Coast, "MSC certification helps ensure a more secure livelihood for West Coast fishermen and their families."

The U.S. West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl fishery is the most diverse, complex fishery ever to enter assessment against the MSC standard anywhere in the world.  About 100 vessels participate in the fishery in a given year. This is a predominantly federally managed fishery, but the State of Oregon also has management responsibility for the portion of the fishery within state managed waters.  Fishing occurs year round, but is most active in the first six months, with fish landed to designated ports in each of the three states.

"The MSC certification for several West Coast trawl caught groundfish species will be a great accomplishment for our industry.  It will show the rest of the world what West Coast trawlers already knew, that our fishery is stable and sustainable into the future," said Travis Hunter, a Eureka, California fisherman.

Environmental Defense Fund worked with fishermen, fishery managers and federal officials over a seven-year period to develop the catch share program. Shems Jud, Deputy Regional Director for EDF's Oceans Program, said: "All credit goes to the trawl fishermen. In adapting to catch shares they dramatically reduced their bycatch and helped establish the foundation for MSC certification. This announcement reinforces what a growing number of U.S. fishermen have experienced firsthand – that a system of full accountability creates the potential for a fishery to succeed both economically and environmentally."

Dan Averill, MSC fishery outreach manager, said MSC certification is: "A proud day for fishermen in Oregon, Washington and California." Averill noted that the fishery is managed under a catch share program that utilizes Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQ) and 100% observer coverage to better manage the multi-species fishery and said, "MSC certification confirms the rigorous management of the fishery and assures a steady and stable supply of seafood long into the future."  Under the catch share program, all vessels fishing are required to have a federal license and are 100% accountable for their catch, which ensures that fish stocks are not overfished. 

"The trawl fishery on the West Coast has undergone significant changes over the past decade, culminating in the rationalization of the fishery in 2011.  The certification validates what we've done to make this a sustainable fishery," said Marion Larkin, a fisherman from Bellingham, Washington.

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