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.”

 


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