SOURCE: WWF-Canada

WWF-Canada

March 13, 2014 05:59 ET

Newfoundland Cod Fishery Announces Milestone Sustainability Assessment

ST. JOHN'S, NL--(Marketwired - March 13, 2014) - Newfoundland's only commercial cod fishery is back on the map following an announcement that it has entered full assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, the world's best for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The MSC assessment is being led by Icewater Seafoods Inc. and Ocean Choice International, members of a client group that supported a WWF-led Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) on the southern Newfoundland cod fishery, which is commonly referred to as 3Ps, its NAFO statistical area designation. The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW), Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada were also key supporters of the project.

"This milestone for the 3Ps fishery is of huge historical significance," said David Miller, President and CEO of WWF Canada. "It demonstrates that good management and collaboration can lead to the recovery of cod populations -- and that struggling fisheries can once again thrive, not only in Atlantic Canada but across the world," he added

In January 2011, WWF and Icewater started Canada's first FIP in the 3Ps cod fishery. With most of the cod stocks in the region still depleted or slowly recovering from collapse in the 1990s, the project set out an aggressive conservation action plan over a 3-year period.

The MSC assessment is a timely initiative given the outcome of the 2013 stock assessment by Fisheries and Oceans Canada showing a positive biomass trajectory for the next three years.

"WWF's commitment to the recovery of Newfoundland cod fisheries combined with their international network made them a logical choice for Icewater to partner with on Fisheries Improvement," said Alberto Wareham, CEO of Icewater Seafoods Inc. "WWF is also working to ensure all seafood supplies are from sustainable sources - including Newfoundland cod." 

Critical funding for the FIP came from the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Resources Legacy Fund, High Liner and WWF.

Other stakeholders include the retail giants Loblaws and Marks & Spencer as well as the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University and the Marine Stewardship Council.

"OCI is committed to improving the competitiveness and long-term viability of Newfoundland cod in the domestic and international marketplace. With growing demands for fish from well-managed fisheries, MSC certification ensures we are focused on the future health of this important fishery," said Martin Sullivan, CEO of Ocean Choice International.

Icewater and OCI purchase cod from up to 420 independent fish harvesters in 3Ps, many of which are from rural communities where fishing remains the foundation of their economies.

If certified, the 3Ps cod fishery will join more than 320 other fisheries engaged in the MSC program worldwide, over 220 of which have achieved certification. 

Notes to Editors

More information on WWF Canada's Fishery Improvement Projects is available at http://www.wwf.ca/conservation/oceans/atlantic_canada/

More information on NAFO division 3P, 3Pn and 3Ps is available at http://www.nafo.int/fisheries/frames/fishery.html

A map of the 3Ps fishery is available at  http://www.nafo.int/fisheries/frames/fishery.html

About Icewater: Icewater Seafoods Inc. is a vertically integrated groundfish company focused on producing premium quality products for the European and North American markets with operations in Arnold's Cove, NL and have been part of the fishery for generations. 

About OCI: Ocean Choice International is one of Canada's leading vertically integrated seafood harvesting, processing and marketing companies with operations throughout Atlantic Canada, and sales and marketing offices around the world. As one of Canada's largest wild fish quota holders, OCI is a leader in fishing and processing technology and market development.

About WWF Canada: WWF is creating solutions to the most serious conservation challenges facing our planet, helping people and nature thrive. www.wwf.ca

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