Prince Edward Island lobster trap fishery achieves MSC certification

Nov 16, 2014 - The Prince Edward Island (PEI) lobster trap fishery has been certified against the global, science-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard as sustainable and well-managed following an independent assessment conducted by SAI Global. Lobster(Homarus americanus) from this fishery is now eligible to carry the blue MSC ecolabel.

About the PEI lobster fishery

The PEI lobster fishery is significant to the economy of Prince Edward Island. Lobster landings from over 1200 harvesters account for two-thirds to three-quarters of the value of the overall fishery on Prince Edward Island with total landed catch of approximately 28 million pounds per year. According to the provincial Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development, this industry provides more than 5,000 jobs each year and contributes substantially to the province’s economy which was approximately $362 million from the overall seafood industry in 2012.

The MSC certification of the PEI lobster trap fishery was the result of the combined efforts of PEI Fishermen’s Association, the PEI Seafood Processors Association, the Abegweit First Nation and the Lennox Island First Nation. The certification of this fishery is an example of a co-management approach as participants in the PEI lobster fishery worked with Fisheries and Oceans Canada Gulf Region to attain certification against the global MSC standard. The provincial Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development assisted the harvesting and processing groups throughout the assessment.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Gulf Region manages the lobster trap fishery in PEI under three Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) within the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence lobster stock: LFAs 24, 25 and 26A. Catches by all harvesters in LFAs 24, 25 and 26A in 2012 were approximately 7,100 tonnes, 4,900 tonnes and 4,800 tonnes, respectively. The landings by harvesters based in Prince Edward Island is approximately 14,000 tonnes, or 28 million pounds, over the past few years.

The PEI lobster fishery operates baited traps and applies restricted season openings, minimum lobster sizes, escape mechanism and biodegradable twine in traps along with additional management measures to ensure the stock is able to maintain productivity. Lobster from the fishery is predominantly processed into a variety of raw and cooked frozen products and shipped to markets around the world. A portion of landings are shipped live to local and global markets. The main destinations for PEI lobster are export markets in the United States, throughout Europe and a growing portion to Asia.

Accomplishment represents unique collaboration

“This is a huge achievement and result of the collaborative work of the harvesters, processors, First Nations and government support,” said Craig Avery, president of PEI Fishermen's Association. “The Prince Edward Island lobster fishery harvesting and processing sectors are proud of their conservation, cooperative resource management and ability to supply world markets and are pleased to attain MSC certification, demonstrating the fishery is sustainable and well-managed.”

Jeff Malloy, president of the PEI Seafood Processors Association, stated, “Achieving the MSC certification of PEI lobster confirms for our many clients that the stock is managed on a sustainable basis. For over 100 years lobster has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of our fishery in PEI. It was a pleasure to work with our many processors, harvesters and federal and provincial regulators during this certification process.”

“Our First Nations are proud to be part of the client group for this MSC certification,” said Chief Brian Francis of Abegweit First Nation and Chief Matilda Ramjattan of Lennox Island First Nation. “Sustainability of the resource is primary in our Aboriginal culture and this is a positive step for the PEI lobster industry. As both harvesters and processors of lobster, our community members look forward to enjoying the economic benefits of a stable, sustainable wild fishery in the global market place.”

Jay Lugar, MSC fisheries outreach manager, Americas, said, “The MSC congratulates the Prince Edward Island lobster fishery on achieving certification and recognizes this accomplishment represents a unique collaboration of various sectors working together to demonstrate the sustainability of this fishery to the science-based MSC standard.”

About PEI lobster (Homarus americanus)

Lobster in PEI is a component of the large population of the American lobster crustacean that is historically distributed from the Strait of Belle Isle that separates Labrador and Newfoundland all the way southward to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. The largest populations are found in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence around PEI, in southwest Nova Scotia and in the Gulf of Maine.

Two sizes of mature lobster are landed in PEI, the smaller “canner” lobster and the “market” sized lobster. The smaller lobster is a distinctive product and PEI lands a large portion that is available in world markets, accounting for more than 65% of PEI’s total landings over the past ten years. Approximately eight percent of PEI lobster are sold live through retail buyers and live shippers primarily into domestic markets.

About the assessment and certification

SAI Global, an independently accredited certifier, was the certifier for this assessment against the MSC standard. During the assessment, the three principles of the MSC standard were evaluated in detail: the status of the fish stock, the impact of the fishery on the marine ecosystem and the management system overseeing the fishery. More information about the PEI lobster fishery and the complete Public Certification Report detailing the fishery’s passing scores against the MSC standard can be found on MSC’s web site at

Notes to editors:

For media inquiries please contact:
Melissa Mefford
MSC Communications Associate, Americas