First published in the MLA Newsletter, October, 2012.
As Maine’s lobster fishery moves closer to Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, MSC proponents are meeting with harvesters and dealers all along the coast to answer questions and explain how the MSC label will benefit Maine’s lobster industry.
Widely viewed as the most recognized and respected seafood certification in the world, the MSC label will help open doors at a time when Maine lobstermen are anxious to reach new markets. It’s been four years since outreach was last done, however, and many harvesters may have questions about what MSC certification will mean to them. The non-profit “Fund for the Advancement of Sustainable Maine Lobster” is the Client group seeking MSC certification and paying for the certification process. The Client group is guided by an advisory committee of harvesters, dealers and processors. They have hired Togue Brawn, formerly at the Department of Marine Resources, to help with research and outreach.
At the August LAC meeting, Brawn and John Hathaway (Chair of the client group) gave a status update describing how Maine lobster fared under the MSC Assessment. And the news is good: Maine’s lobster industry passed the Final Assessment Stage with no required changes to fishing practices. The LAC has since given its approval to continue the certification process. Hathaway and Brawn continued their presentations to industry, attending each of the seven Zone Council Meetings held in late September and Early October. They are also working to arrange a presentation to the Maine Import-Export Lobster Dealers Association.
Although the MSC process includes a “stakeholder comment” period likely to occur in October or November, that period is intended for comments on the assessment itself. Anyone with questions or comments concerning MSC Certification and how it may impact the Maine lobster industry should contact John Hathaway, Chair of the Fund for the Advancement of Sustainable Maine Lobster. John may be reached at (207) 329-1791 or email@example.com.