The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) announced that the Atlantic Scup (Stenotomus chrysops) bottom trawl fishery has achieved MSC certification for sustainable fishing practices. The MSC Fisheries Standard is a globally recognized standard used to assess if a fishery is well-managed, and reflects the most up-to-date understanding of internationally accepted fisheries science and management. The MSC certificate for scup is jointly held by commercial fishing operations Lund’s Fisheries, Inc. and Seafreeze, Ltd.

The Atlantic scup certification follows a rigorous twelve-month review carried out by a third-party assessment body, SCS Global Services. The MSC Fisheries Standard has three core principles that every certified fishery must meet including 1) sustainable fish stocks, 2) minimizing environmental impact, and 3) effective fisheries management.  As well as preserving fish stocks and the marine environment,  the MSC certification process ensures that scup products can be traced to a sustainable source through required recordkeeping.

Eric Critchlow, US Director for the MSC, said: “The certification of the scup fishery will help safeguard livelihoods, seafood supplies, and healthy oceans for future generations. Being a new whitefish fishery to gain MSC certification is a notable achievement and we welcome Lund’s and Seafreeze’s commitment to fisheries sustainability.”

Lund’s Fisheries principals own and operate 20 fishing vessels delivering a variety of seafood to its freezing and processing facility year-round. Other, independent vessels, from North Carolina through Maine, land scup at the company’s Cape May, NJ plant, as well. The Seafreeze, Ltd. facility in North Kingstown, RI operates three company vessels that it owns, and its affiliated Seafreeze Shoreside, in Narragansett, RI, handles about 10-12 additional independent vessels delivering scup to the Kingstown location. Vessels landing with Seafreeze hail from Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut ports. 

The fishery’s strengths include a well-defined and proven governance system of national and state laws; a suite of strategic policy frameworks that are supportive of the MSC’s Principles; effective leadership within federal and state management and scientific organizations; a transparent and engaging consultation and decision-making processes; and a proven federal-state record of effective collaboration and cooperation at all levels.

Scup, which is also known as Porgy, Maiden, Fair maid, Ironsides, or Northern porgy, is a dusky brown and silver food fish found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, primarily between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Scup populations are healthy and have steadily increased since the mid-1990s. Scup is considered an “underutilized species” because they are low on the list of typically consumed commercially available seafoods by Americans. 

Meghan Lapp, Fisheries Liaison for Seafreeze Ltd. and Seafreeze Shoreside, commenting on the economic benefits of certification to their vessels and their customers stated, “This is an exciting step forward in recognition of a sustainable, underutilized fishery. The MSC certification adds value to the fishery and this recognition helps open up new food markets for new customers.”

Wayne Reichle, President of Lund’s Fisheries, commented, “We are excited to join Seafreeze in certifying the potential for the scup fishery, along with the MSC. Lund’s has been a leader in certifying its fisheries, with scup being the fourth MSC product we offer our customers.  This new certification will help us present another locally-harvested sustainable fish to the public that  they may not have heard of, seen, or eaten before.”

“The successful outcome of this fishery certification highlights yet another example of robust scientific assessment, research, management, and governance of fishery resources here in the United States,” said Brian Ahlers, Client Services Manager, SCS Global Services.

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