SustainabilityWhen you’ve been in the seafood business for four generations, sustainability is much more than a word or an abstract concept. All of us at Boston Sword & Tuna depend on the ocean for a living, which is why we are committed to working in fisheries that are very well managed to ensure their commercial viability for generations to come.

Here’s a look at the sustainability of some of our major seafood products:

Swordfish Swordfish
Our two longliners, the Iron Maiden and the Iron Lady, fish in one of the best-managed fisheries in the world: the Northwest Atlantic swordfish fishery. A highly migratory fish, swordfish are managed in the Atlantic by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). After years of heavy fishing by foreign fleets reduced swordfish stocks in the Atlantic, in 1994 ICCAT assigned quotas to countries participating in the fishery and enacted a series of additional conservation measures to rebuild the stocks.

Today, swordfish stocks in the Northwest Atlantic are fully recovered due to strict management of the fishery. These measures include:

  • Enforcement of a minimum size restriction, ensuring that all swordfish get a chance to reproduce and continually replenish the population.
  • Closure of large areas to avoid catching small swordfish
  • Swordfish boats must have vessel monitoring systems onboard to ensure they do not fish in closed areas
  • Strict enforcement of the U.S. quota (in fact, the U.S. sword fleet has failed to catch its entire quota in recent years due to the many management measures being enforced)
  • The use of more environmentally friendly circle hooks on longlines, which has reduced the U.S. fleet’s interaction with sea turtles by 90 percent.

Seafood Watch Rating:  Good Alternative

The Canadian Atlantic longline and harpoon fisheries are MSC certified. The U.S. North Atlantic longline swordfish fisheries are in assessment for MSC certification. See article opposite!

Tuna Tuna
When our boats are not chasing sword, they’re longlining for bigeye and yellowfin tuna. Although these stocks are not nearly as large as tuna stocks in the Pacific, they are considered to be managed sustainably. In fact, the Seafood Watch program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium gives a “Good Alternative” rating to the U.S. Atlantic longline bigeye and yellowfin tuna fisheries. As is the case with the swordfish fishery, our boats have to comply with a variety of management  measures including the required use of circle hooks, area closures, VMS monitoring and observer coverage.

Seafood Watch Rating:  Good Alternative

Sea ScallopsSea Scallops 
The U.S. fishery for sea scallops is the most valuable sea scallop fishery in the world. But this wasn’t always the case. In the 1990s, catches were plummeting and the fishing effort was too high. Since then, though, the National Marine Fisheries Service has changed the way it manages the fishery by using a system of closed area rotations to allow scallop stocks to recover to optimal population levels. In addition, new gear modifications that reduce the catch of small, immature scallops have been enacted. As a result, sea scallop populations off the Northeast have multiplied ten fold and catches have been consistently at or near record highs since 2001. 

The sea scallop fishery has also undertaken a variety of measures to reduce its environmental impact. In certain areas, for example, scallopers are required to use Turtle Deflector Dredges to reduce interactions with sea turtles. And the scallop fleet spends up to $10 million on benthic surveys to mitigate habitat impacts. 
In light of these conservation efforts, the U.S. sea scallop fishery is currently undergoing assessment to be certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Seafood Watch Rating:  Good Alternative
Under Assessment for MSC Certification

American LobsterAmerican Lobster
The fishery for American lobster in both Canada and the U.S. is another very well-managed fishery. In recent years, landings have reached historic highs. Both fisheries are managed with the use of minimum and maximum size limits and rules that prevent the retention of egg-bearing females. In addition, lobster traps are required to be designed to allow undersized lobsters to escape from the trap. And all traps must have biodegradable escape panels that allow lobsters to escape from traps that are lost at sea. Currently, the fishery for lobsters in Maine, which produces about 90 percent of the U.S. lobster landings, is undergoing assessment by the Marine Stewardship Council.  The Canadian offshore lobster fishery was certified  by MSC in 2009.

Seafood Watch Rating: Best Choice

Norwegian Salmon Vikenko's Salmon farm now BAP Certified!
Norwegian Salmon Norway’s Atlantic salmon farming industry is highly regulated to ensure it is environmentally responsible and sustainable. After all, salmon farmers know the key to their success is a clean, healthy environment for their fish. The Norwegian government recognizes that salmon farming has become the economic lifeline for many coastal communities, where it is a welcome source of jobs and economic growth. Since the industry first developed in the 1980s, regulators have limited its growth to ensure that a healthy environment, rather than market demand, be the most important factor in determining the industry’s growth.

Here are some of the regulatory measures enacted to ensure the sustainability of Norway’s salmon-farming industry:

  • Limit the allowable biomass in salmon farming areas and monitor environmental impacts to ensure minimal impact.
  • Prevent discharges of environmentally harmful chemicals from washing and cleaning of nets.
  • Encourage the use of wrasse to control sea lice in an environmentally friendly manner.
  • Continue to fund research to further reduce the usage of antibiotics.
  • Require that fish meal and fish oil used in salmon feed come from fully traceable, sustainable sources.
  • Continue to work with industry and support research to further reduce the marine components in fish feed. 

For more information on the sustainability of the Norwegian farmed salmon industry click here