The international Marine Stewardship Council has certified the northern shrimp fishery as the first Canadian fishery to be environmentally sustainable and well-managed.
The council (MSC) announced the certification Monday from Seattle, Wash., saying northern prawn will be the first Canadian wild-caught seafood eligible to bear the blue MSC eco-label.
The northern, or pink shrimp and striped shrimp, which are caught in Canada off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, the Labrador coast and Davis Strait between Baffin Island and Greenland, are primarily marketed in the United Kingdom, with other major markets including continental Europe and the United States.
The MSC considers the northern shrimp harvest sustainable because of the use of grates to reduce by-catch.
The trawlers that harvest the fish use Nordmore separator grates, which allow species other than shrimp to pass through and escape. The grates have been mandatory in the fishery since 1992.
Not green enough, conservation group says
However, the move to label the northern shrimp fishery as sustainable is not without opposition.
On Thursday, Seachoice, a national sustainable seafood program, issued a statement saying the northern shrimp fishery is not "green" enough, because the trawling method still damages underwater ecosystems.
"As the first fishery in Canada to be stamped with the MSC eco-label we are concerned that the shrimp trawl fishery will be considered clean and green, yet there are significant conservation concerns that remain unaddressed by the industry and government," said Bill Wareham, senior marine conservation specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation.
The method used to catch shrimp is midwater trawling, where the net is trawled above the ocean floor. Bottom trawling, where the net is hauled along the ocean floor is a method used to catch ground fish.
The northern shrimp fishery is managed by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.