Louisiana Blue Crab Fishery First to Receive G.U.L.F. Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification

Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) continues its mission to ensure the viability of Gulf of Mexico fisheries by certifying Louisiana blue crab under its new  certification program. The G.U.L.F. Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification is a regionalized model  measuring the responsible practices for the sustainable harvest of our vibrant Gulf of Mexico seafood.

The Louisiana blue crab fishery is the first to go through the process and receive the G.U.L.F. RFM certification. Global Trust, an independent assessment body specializing in the certification of fisheries, carried out the evaluation and awarded the certification.

Similar certification models have also been established in Alaska and Iceland.

dsc_8272“It’s exciting to see the Louisiana blue crab achieve GULF RFM certification,” said Susan Marks, Sustainability Director, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “Participation by the Gulf States, alongside Iceland and Alaska, provides customers another credible and cost-effective choice in demonstrating responsible sourcing and 3rd party certification.”

The certification is based on internationallyaccepted principles laid out by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in their Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and Ecolabelling Guidelines for Fish and Fishery Products to ensure that seafood is responsibly harvested and sustainable. G.U.L.F.’s RFM certification was developed in accordance with those guidelines, as well as with principles set forth by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

“This is the culmination of a comprehensive process to create a certification unique to the species and fisheries management systems specific to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, ” said Laura Picariello, Technical Programs Manager for G.U.L.F. “Throughout the process, G.U.L.F. consulted with a Technical Advisory Committee comprised of researchers, resource managers, industry members, and other stakeholders from the Gulf of Mexico region. G.U.L.F. continues to work closely with fishermen and resource managers to facilitate communication and outreach to ensure the process is transparent and thorough.”

GULFFisheries certified under the umbrella of G.U.L.F. will gain credibility in a marketplace with ever increasing demands for sustainability verification. In recent years, large retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Kroger, Winn-Dixie and Publix have developed strict sourcing policies that require sustainability assurances before purchasing seafood. This certification demonstrates that Louisiana blue crab is responsibly harvested for sustainable use, thereby safeguarding both the seafood itself and the industry that relies on it.

“This significant milestone for Audubon’s sustainable seafood program expands our already considerable presence in the landscape of conservation,” says Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman.  “We cannot underestimate the importance of a healthy Gulf of Mexico to our state’s economy. A vibrant, well-managed marine ecosystem will provide for healthy fisheries that will enable us to continue to be near the top in national seafood production.’’

Thanks to a long history of excellence provided by Louisiana’s fishing industry and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, our coastline supplies a significant portion of the nation’s seafood.  Over a quarter of all blue crab harvested in the United States comes from Louisiana waters, making it the country’s largest blue crab fishery.

Certifying Gulf fisheries to the highest level will ensure that products coming from regional waters will be abundant and well-managed and that consumers can continue to feel confident about eating Gulf seafood. This certification for the Louisiana blue crab fishery not only verifies the proper management of this valuable resource, but also enhances the marketability of Louisiana’s delicious blue crabs. Sustainability of our region’s fisheries is essential to the livelihoods of fishermen, processors, restaurateurs and many others who depend on the seafood industry.

“What this ultimately means is that consumers can feel good about purchasing Louisiana blue crabs,” said Picariello. “Just check the label to make sure the blue crabs you are purchasing came from Louisiana waters, or ask your grocer or server where the product comes from.”


Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and FishChoice Launch New FIP Website

The number of fishery improvement projects (FIPs) globally has grown dramatically,yet there has been no central clearinghouse for detailed FIP progress tracking. However, that has now changed this week with the launch of FisheryProgress.org.

FisheryProgress.org is a one-stop shop for information on the progress of global fishery improvement projects. It makes tracking progress more efficient, consistent, and reliable for businesses that support FIPs. The website is a place for FIPs to showcase their progress to potential buyers and for businesses to find FIPs that meet their sustainable seafood commitments.

The site, a collaboration between the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and FishChoice (of which G.U.L.F. is an affiliate), gives users all the information they need to make decisions about whether FIPs meet their sourcing policy. Users can search for FIPs or browse a full list of all the FIPs on the site. For each FIP, users will start with a progress snapshot and can easily access workplan details and supporting documentation if they need more information.

The information on this new site is verified regularly by FisheryProgress.org staff. When a FIP requests to be included on the site, staff conduct an initial review of information to confirm that the FIP meets the Conservation Alliance’s guidelines, which serve as the foundation for the site. In addition, staff review each FIP’s progress reports annually to ensure the information is accurate. Currently, G.U.L.F.’s Louisiana Shrimp FIP is listed on the site.

Interested in learning more? Join a webinar to learn more about the site features and how you can create an account. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 3 from 2-3pm ET/11am-12pm PT, and you can RSVP by emailing Liz Kieffer (liz@springboard.partners).

Learn more about the site at www.FisheryProgress.org, and contact Kristin Sherwood (kristin@fishchoice.com) with any questions.

G.U.L.F. Standard Public Comment Period Set to Close

There are ten days left in the public comment period for the G.U.L.F. Standard. We welcome any feedback you have. To submit a comment, email it to gulf@auduboninstitute.org. Once we have received all comments, our Technical Advisory Committee will reconvene to address them. The public comment period will close on February 13th, 2015.

Site Visit for Assessments of Louisiana Blue Crab and Oyster

Global Trust and a team of assessors will be conducting on-site assessments of the Louisiana blue crab and oyster fisheries. The data gathered by the assessors will be used to benchmark them against the Audubon G.U.L.F. Standard, and ultimately a certification decision regarding their sustainability will be made later in the year.

Site visits will be conducted in New Orleans and Baton Rouge February 3-5, 2015. Visit our Fisheries in Progress page if you would like more information on the assessment process. Should you desire to speak to the assessment team, please contact us and we will set up a time for you to meet with them.

Louisiana Blue Crab and Oyster Enter Assessment

DSC_8272-cropped2015 marks the start of the assessment process for both Louisiana blue crab and oyster. The applications of the fisheries and timelines for the assessment are available on our website; check back frequently for updates and additional materials.

After an RFP process, we have chosen to use the assessment services of Global Trust, Inc. They will work alongside a team of assessors independently selected for their familiarity and expertise with Louisiana’s fisheries, and their neutral stance.

Blue Crab Assessment Team

Oyster Assessment Team

As a reminder, we are accepting comments on the G.U.L.F. Standard through February 13, 2015 and we would love to hear from you.

Download the standard

Submit your comment

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