An analysis of bycatch mitigation under the MSC certification of the Northwest Atlantic Canada longline swordfish fishery
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Recent proliferation of market-based approaches for sustainable fisheries management has led to the creation of organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). MSC uses its fishery certification programme and ecolabel to attract consumers and reward sustainably managed fisheries. Although MSC is succeeding in making seafood more sustainable, it should be recognized that there is a need for improvement regarding bycatch mitigation in many MSC-certified fisheries. This study analyzed bycatch mitigation under the MSC certification of the Northwest Atlantic Canada longline swordfish fishery, which has received significant opposition from environmental non-governmental organizations. A set of criteria were used to select case studies to compare with this fishery, resulting in the selection of the Southeast US North Atlantic longline swordfish fishery. These two fisheries were then analyzed using a FAO/SMART analysis table, developed to objectively evaluate existing measures for bycatch, particularly for sharks and sea turtles. This analysis led to several recommendations, primarily the need for the Northwest Atlantic Canada longline swordfish fishery to develop and implement better methods for data collection. These included improved observer coverage, logbook records for all species, at-sea electronic monitoring, and training for better species identification and best handling practices. Better data will enable more specific and effective measures for mitigating bycatch species, and therefore improve the sustainability of this MSC-certified fishery moving forward.