pe-hi-lobster-fishermen-4col

The P.E.I. lobster fishery sought out an eco-friendly label in 2009. (CBC)

The Maine lobster fishery has outpaced almost all of its counterparts in Atlantic Canada when it comes to a new certification for sustainable catches, says the executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.

The London-based Marine Stewardship Council has given its seal of approval to the Maine fishery, meaning the industry can market itself as sustainably run.

Geoff Irvine  argues that certification has become important, particularly for U.S. and European markets.

"Everybody knew when Maine got certified the clock would be ticking on the Canadian in-shores. The whole eco-certification movement has been driven by European retailers. American retailers are starting to take notice, even retailers like Wal-Mart are asking for proof of sustainability," he said.

"The Magdalen Islands are about to get certified so that will be the first in-shore fishery and the Maritimes and the Gulf region will be moving down that road, probably within weeks."

Irvine said most lobster fisheries in Canada will be certified in 14 to 16 months.

He said the New England state got ahead of the curve because the fishermen secured the needed funding from L.L. Bean.  Certification can cost up $250,000.

Only about half a dozen places in the world have received the seal of approval.