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At a packed press conference held March 10 at the International Boston Seafood Show (IBSS), Gov. Paul R. LePage revealed that the Maine lobster fishery has received the London-based Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Sustainable Seafood Certification. Recognizing ecologically sound practices, from harvest through delivery to consumer, MSC certification provides a competitive edge in marketing to the growing number of retailers and consumers who prefer an environmentally responsible product.
“The Marine Stewardship Council’s certification will provide the Maine lobster industry with a globally recognized seal of approval,” said LePage, who appeared at the Shucks Maine Lobster booth, along with lobster fishermen from the state, to share the news. “This certification recognizes our longstanding practices of good stewardship and ensures that every lobster caught in Maine waters can be marketed not only as delicious, healthy food, but also as a resource that meets the most stringent international environmental standard for seafood sustainability.”
Marketing efforts for Maine lobster have received widespread support since last season, when supply exceeded demand, leading to the lowest per-pound prices in more than two decades. “This places greater emphasis on the need for effective marketing and highlights the unique marketing advantage MSC certification provides,” noted LePage.
MSC certification is the only seafood certification program that meets all of the major international standards on sustainable fishing, ecosystem protection and eco-labeling. To date, more than 100 fisheries worldwide have earned the certification.
To be granted MSC certification, fisheries must meet a stringent set of standards that includes the health of the fish stock, marine ecosystem protection, and the effectiveness of fishery management. Within these core areas are 31 performance indicators employed by accredited independent, third-party certification bodies to evaluate a fishery applying for certification.
The certification program features a process for tracing each certified Maine lobster to its location of origin, which is critical to preserving the brand’s identity. “This global certification program will open new markets worldwide, and just as important, it will provide the means to trace our certified lobsters, no matter where in the world they end up, back to waters of Maine,” said LePage.
Co-located with Seafood Processing America and running through March 12, the IBSS is North America’s largest seafood trade event, attracting 19,000 buyers and sellers from more than 100 countries, and more than 1,000 exhibiting companies. The events are produced by Portland, Maine-based Diversified Business Communications.