The recent decision by a Californian organization to declare “to avoid” crab and lobster fished in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the American east coast because fishing practices in these areas would always threaten right whales is very wrong. received by the industry.
Seafood Watch, a seafood fisheries monitoring program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, says current management measures for the crab fishery and lobster fishery in the northeast mainland are not going well. far enough to mitigate the risk of entanglement and promote right whale recovery.
COURTOISIE / Seafood Watch / Monterey Bay Aquarium
Several big buyers of the affected products, including Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, support Seafood Watch’s recommendations, much to the chagrin of processors and fishers.
On both sides of the border, Seafood Watch is being criticized for making a poorly documented decision that ignores the industry’s efforts and motivation to improve.
The lawyer representing them, Katherine Morissette, of MKM Global in Montreal, points out that no whale mortality associated with the fishery has been reported for five years.
Snow crab fishers and processors in Quebec and New Brunswick are notably involved in a fishery improvement initiative commonly known as the FIP (Fishery Improvement Project), in order to promote sustainable coexistence with endangered mammals and thus recovering the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainable fishing certification that they lost in 2018.
“It shows that the scientific committee of Seafood Watch did not have access to all the available data, says Me Morissette. Despite an invitation from us last June, at no time did Seafood Watch communicate with us or solicit data relevant to the analysis. These are people who are in office towers and who are obviously disconnected from the field.
Same story in Maine, where lobster fishermen, among other things, removed nearly 50,000 kilometers of rope from the water to prevent whale entanglement, the last of which dates back to 2004, according to television station WCSH. .
The snow crab industry in the southern Gulf intends to consult with the lobster industry in eastern Canada, also affected by Seafood Watch’s discount, in order to obtain a retraction from the organization.
“It is absolutely necessary to settle the file before next spring, affirms Jean-Paul Gagné, director general of the Quebec Association of the fishing industry (AQIP). There is no reason to put lobster on the red list. The fishery is still under MSC certification and there have never been any interactions with the right whale so far.
That said, Katherine Morissette relativizes the importance of an organization like that of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“We shouldn’t give it too much importance,” she said. It is one evaluation system among several others. […] Our partner Sustainable Fisheries Partnership also has such a classification system and publicly qualifies, with supporting citation, our FIP as a “success story”.
Me Morissette nevertheless admits that Seafood Watch’s decision could hurt the industry very badly.