Ecology Action Centre contests listing of swordfish as "sustainable"

Lack of observers, bycatch and other concerns noted.

Swordfish caught off the coast of Nova Scotia is a step closer to achieving sustainability certification, while environmental advocacy groups warn that the controversial fishery harms threatened and endangered species.

The longline swordfish fishery catches around 20,000 swordfish annually, with a bycatch approximately 100,000 sharks and 1,400 sea turtles every year. But Moody Marine Ltd., a group that gets paid by the fishery, recommended in August that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) add the fish to its list of sustainable seafoods. Last week, the Ecology Action Centre teamed up with the David Suzuki Foundation, Oceana and the Sea Turtle Conservancy, filing an official objection to the MSC. The objection detailed the groups’ concerns about the fishery’s negative impact on threatened and endangered species and the lack of needed observers to monitor bycatch on the fishing vessels.

“This is our chance to have a second look at the Moody recommendations. I don’t think that this fishery meets the MSC standards, so it certainly shouldn’t be certified,” says EAC Sustainable Fisheries coordinator Jordan Nikoloyuk. The MSC’s independent adjudicater, Wylie Spicer, publicly accepted the Ecology Action Centre’s objection on Monday, requesting that Marine Moody address the Halifax nonprofit organization’s concerns within 20 days. Until then, the Ecology Action Centre continues to protest the potential “greenwashing” of our swordfish, sending representatives in a bright blue “Hector the shark” costume on a cycling trek across Europe to the MSC’s London headquarters.

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