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THE entire US east coast North Atlantic fishery for spiny dogfish has now been certified as sustainable by the MSC.

The initial area was MSC certified in August 2012, but the scope of certification now covers the remaining offshore areas of five states in the region: Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

The fishery was entered into the MSC program by the Sustainable Fisheries Association (SFA) and all products from this fishery landed in state and federal waters under Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) management are now eligible to carry the MSC ecolabel.

Attorney John F Whiteside Jr, speaking on behalf of the Sustainable Fisheries Association, said: “We are proud to build on the success of the original assessment of the US Atlantic spiny dogfish fishery as a well-managed and sustainable fishery and have expanded the scope of the certification to include all states in the spiny dogfish fishery management plan. The credible and transparent MSC certification process confirms to our buyers that the rigorous requirements to become sustainably certified have been met or exceeded for this entire fishery.”

Maryland State Senator, Richard Colburn, said: “This designation bodes well for the Atlantic spiny dogfish as it demonstrates that this fishery is in good shape."

Kerry Coughlin, MSC Regional Director, Americas, added: “The expansion of the US east coast North Atlantic fishery for spiny dogfish to include the full region from Maine to North Carolina speaks to the strength of the fishery and commitment to provide markets with MSC certified seafood. We welcome the addition of harvests from the waters of the five states to the original certification as the fishery has demonstrated that it is sustainable and well-managed in the entire region.”

The fishery operates year round in federal and state waters from Maine to North Carolina and uses three gear types: gillnet, longline, and otter trawl. In 2009, landings from all three gear types were approximately 3,300 metric tons, with gillnet accounting for approximately two-thirds of the total.  Due to the strong recovery of the stock in recent years, following the success of management measures such as low annual catch quotas and trip limits, fishery managers have been able to increase the allowable commercial catch. In the fishing year 2012-13, the limit is 16,101 metric tons. The primary commercial market is the European Union. 

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service manages the Federal and State fisheries in cooperation, respectively, with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council that collaborates with the New England Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which coordinates fisheries management on behalf of the individual States. The Councils and the Commission developed and implemented rebuilding plans in 2000 that allowed the stock to recover to a level that supports sustainable fishing. NOAA Fisheries now considers the stock to be sustainable, abundant and rebuilt; it is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.

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