A fishery notorious for its bycatch of sharks and sea turtles is close to snagging something they actually want: a coveted eco-label from the Marine Stewardship Council.
The Atlantic Canada longline swordfish fishery - aka the "fishery for unwanted sharks mostly, and sometimes swordfish, and all too often turtles" - has been recommended for MSC certification by Moody Marine Ltd., a company that conducts assessments for the MSC process.
All is not yet lost, though: the public comment period is open until April 11, and this is your chance to make your voice heard. Your effort can have a real, positive impact for sea turtles and sharks in Atlantic Canada.
This is no laughing matter. Each year, the Canadian Atlantic longline fishery for swordfish catches an estimated 100,000 sharks (blue, mako, porbeagle), over 1,000 loggerhead sea turtles, and approximately 170 critically endangered leatherback sea turtles (click here for more information).
Moody Marine Ltd. recommends that this fishery be certified by MSC with some conditions. While three of the conditions are focused on turtle bycatch, they do not go nearly far enough to ensure that loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles will be better protected as a result. In addition, the report makes requires the fishery to make no changes relating to their bycatch of sharks. (Click here to see a brief on the failures of the Moody Marine report).
In addition to the negative consequences for sharks and sea turtles, an MSC certification of this fishery will - and should - severely undermine consumer confidence in the MSC eco-label.
Our voice - your voice - needs to be heard on this. It can make a huge difference at this particular stage. Click here to send a letter to Rupert Howes, MSC's CEO, expressing your dismay at a potential MSC certification of a fishery that catches thousands of sharks and turtles. Your letter will also go to Moody Marine Ltd., and as such they will be counted, and responded to, in the final report. Remember - the public comment period ends April 11, so send this letter in as soon as possible, and spread the word over these last few days! Nearly 450 letters have been sent so far, and they're having an effect - MSC is already backpedaling from their responsibility in this fiasco.
So, let's keep those letters coming in: send yours in and spread the link far and wide. To learn more and to see the many groups and individuals who are working hard on this issue, visit Friends of Hector.