SAI Global assessment paves the way for Newfoundland fishery improvement project

August 1, 2016

SAI Global is pleased to announce the completion of their 6 week pre-assessment for the Newfoundland cod fisheries improvement project in the lead-up to their assessment for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. The assessment conducted by SAI Global and funded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, and Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor) was done in consultation with fish harvester representatives, government scientists, WWF members and the local Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The findings will be used by the WWF and FFAW to determine the next steps, and the possible full assessment, of the northern cod fishery.

This pre-assessment reinforces SAI Global's goal to ensure the food industry, including fisheries and agricultural practices, employ ethical sourcing and supply strategies when it comes to social, environmental and sustainable methodologies.

The strategic agreement to invest in ensuring ethical sourcing when it comes to the food supply chain, aligns with SAI Global’s philosophy to safeguard against breaches in food safety including environmental sustainability. The strategic agreement to invest in ensuring ethical sourcing when it comes to the food supply chain, aligns with SAI Global’s philosophy to safeguard against breaches in food safety including environmental sustainability.

Peter Mullins

Chief Executive Officer, SAI Global

At one point yearly harvests were in excess of 800,000 tons of cod. These high levels of fishing proved unsustainable and some 25 years ago, a cod moratorium was introduced in Newfoundland, the world's most iconic fishery. The moratorium devastated rural Newfoundland and totally changed the seafood industry, a catalyst in the formation of the Marine Stewardship Council. The Newfoundland fishery for northern cod remained closed until 2006, when signs of stock recovery allowed for limited fishing under a Stewardship fishery in inshore areas.

The fisheries Standards today focus on good stewardship of the fish resource to prevent overfishing, and reduced environmental impact including maintenance of the sea bed, habitat and reduced incidental catches of other fish not targeted.  Additional conditions imposed on the fishery can range from better data collection, verification of catches by increased observation at sea, reduction in incidental catches, use of devises on nets to allow marine mammals and small fish to escape, and improved management regulations to support sustainable fishing.  Improved information is a critical component to improving fisheries management, and this leads to environmental benefits of reduced bycatches, reduced catches of undersized fishes, reduced impacts on marine mammals and healthy target stocks.

There has been significant global interest and anticipation of the Newfoundland fishery potentially coming full circle, with the pre-assessment laying the foundation for the potential achievement of certification.

SAI Global regularly works with environmental organizations, such as the WWF, assessing fisheries who wish to apply for certification or wish to enter into comprehensive fisheries improvement projects. WWF also partners with retailers globally and acts as an advisor on sustainability seafood procurement.

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union represents over 12,000 working women and men throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, most of whom are employed in the fishing industry. 

SAI Global is involved in numerous fisheries programs including a major Mediterranean Sea fisheries improvement project with the Marine Stewardship Council and the WWF. They are also about to commence fisheries improvement work in the Gulf of Mexico with a not-for-profit client, Audubon Nature Institute, with support from the WWF in the United States.