Right whale deaths cost Gulf snow crab fishery its designation as sustainable

HALIFAX — An international organization has suspended a sustainability certificate for the snow crab fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence over the deaths of endangered North Atlantic right whales.

The Marine Stewardship Council announced the decision today following an expedited audit of the lucrative fishery in the southern Gulf.

The London-based organization says the certifier determined that the fishery no longer meets the council’s standard when it comes to endangered, threatened and protected species.

The decision means that the landings from several crab fishing areas in the Gulf cannot be sold as MSC certified or bear the MSC label, which suggests to consumers that a species has been caught in a sustainable manner.

There were at least 17 confirmed right whale deaths in Canada and the United States last year, with some caused by fishing gear entanglements.

In response, federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc introduced new rules for the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery to reduce the amount of rope that can be left floating on the surface when crab pots are set.

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