The Gulf Nova Scotia Herring Federation and its member associations have achieved the globally-recognized Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for sustainable fishing.
Fall herring from the fishery in Canada’s southern Gulf of St. Lawrence can now be sold with the blue MSC ecolabel indicating it comes from a sustainable, well-managed source. This is the first ever gillnet herring fishery to achieve MSC certification.
‘’We are delighted to see this important fishery independently assessed and certified as being well managed and environmentally sustainable,” said Federation Chairman and herring fisherman Greg Egilsson.
“To be the first herring fishery in the world with this gear type to achieve MSC certification is a huge accomplishment and endorsement of the conservation measures championed by the Federation over many years. The broad recognition of the MSC Standard in the seafood supply chain and among consumers in other markets will allow Canadian processors to make further inroads into new markets where herring products are highly sought after. We are also grateful to the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture for its important support of the assessment.”
“Nova Scotia has a proud history of supplying high quality fish to the world,” said Nova Scotia’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell. “Now, with the independent certification of the Marine Stewardship Council, we can enhance our global image with environmentally-conscious consumers and the marketability of our herring.”
While most fall herring harvesters also engage in other seasonal fisheries like lobster and snow crab, herring plays a vital role in supporting close to 2,000 jobs in as many as 35 processing plants in the southern Gulf region.
Fall herring is one component of a coastal, multi-species fishery that opens for only a very limited period in September and October. In 2015, the 400 eligible fish harvesters landed 5,630 m metric tonnes of herring worth almost $2.6 million. It occurs in Herring Fishing Area 16 F situated within the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence specifically in waters off the eastern portion of the Northumberland Strait between the northern shore of Nova Scotia and southeastern shore of Prince Edward Island.
“The MSC is thrilled to welcome Canadian Fall herring into our program” said Jay Lugar, Program Director for MSC in Canada.
“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is home to a rich diversity of species of which many are commercially harvested and a large portion of volume is MSC certified. We are proud to see fall herring join the ranks of fisheries that are working hard to protect our marine ecosystems and using the MSC certification to signal their accomplishments to the world”
A staple in European and Asian diets for centuries, herring is a highly versatile mild-tasting oily fish and can be found in many forms including fresh, frozen, cured, canned, smoked, herring roe, and oil. In Canada, herring roe is an important product and is mostly sold in Japan. Much of the fall herring is also sold to processors for the smoked herring market in North America and the Caribbean.