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EDITORIAL: Continued suspension of snow crab fishery’s MSC certification seems excessive

Landed snow crab
Landed snow crab - SaltWire Network

Southern Gulf snow crab fishermen took on new challenges of reduced fishing area and temporary closures last year all for the sake of protecting North Atlantic right whales from potential entanglement in fishing gear. They made changes to their gear, too, and their efforts were successful.

There were no reported deaths of endangered North Atlantic right whales in Canadian waters in 2018.

That’s in sharp contrast to the unprecedented 12 documented deaths in Canadian waters in 2017.

But it’s still not good enough for the Marine Stewardship Council.

The MSC suspended the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab industry’s sustainable fishing certification because of the 2017 deaths of the endangered whales.

The industry knew it had to demonstrate it could protect the whales and it delivered.

The loss of MSC certification can lead to lost sales. That did not seem to be an issue last year as sales orders were already in place before the suspension went into place.

But this year? After the industry responded with measures to protect the whales?

The extension of the certification suspension does demonstrate, though, that the snow crab fishery cannot let its guard down. It has a duty and a responsibility to make sure its fishing activity does not cause harm to any of the just over 400 North Atlantic right whales still in existence.

The population is in danger of extinction and that reality does require desperate measures. It just seems unreasonable to risk financial harm to the snow crab fishery when the fishery has already taken effective steps to protect the species.

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