Marine biologist touts N.L. cod fishery’s ‘sustainability milestone’

Says 3Ps cod fishery’s MSC certification is a huge step in helping cod populations recover

Published on April 7, 2016
Cod bled and iced at sea for the Fogo Island Fish project.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Cobb

A Nova Scotia-based marine biologist with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says Newfoundland cod has achieved a milestone in sustainability after the 3Ps cod fishery gained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in March, meaning it is considered sustainable and well-managed.

In a blog post for the WWF, marine biologist Bettina Saier said the certification is a “significant achievement that demonstrates how a science-based approach to managing fish populations and fisheries delivers conservation success.”

The WWF has led conservations efforts in 3Ps for the past five years in collaboration with with Icewater Seafoods Inc., and other industry and government partners. Saier writes that since the program was implemented in 2011, the cod population has grown enough so that the species can now be sustainably harvested.

“The certification is a huge step in WWF-Canada’s efforts to help Newfoundland’s cod populations recover and create sustainable fisheries for the prosperity of local communities. It’s a win for nature and a win for people,” she said.

But the certification didn’t come without controversy.

The fishery, off the south coast of the island, is the first cod fishery in Atlantic Canada to get that certification, and means MSC-certified cod from 3Ps will be sold in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

After the certification was first announced March 22, Ecology Action Centre, a group based in Halifax, said it was concerned about the message it sends to consumers.


Related story:

Ecology Action Centre questions milestone 3Ps cod eco-certification


When shoppers see an eco-certified product, they think all is good, said Susanna Fuller, the group’s marine conservation co-ordinator.

“It’s important to have consumers want to buy sustainable seafood. It’s important to have consumers know who their fisherman is. This just sends a really confusing message, right,” she said.

Because it’s the first cod fishery to be certified, the centre felt the best-case scenario should be used, and 3Ps cod is not.

In her blog post, Saier writes that MSC-certified fisheries are scrutinized carefully and reviewed annually. If they don’t meet conditions for continuous improvement, their certification is revoked.


Read Saier’s blog post here.


With files from Paul Herridge (