NEW BEDFORD, Mass., Aug. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Atlantic Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias) fishery today became the first east coast shark fishery to be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The certification was granted to the Sustainable Fisheries Association comprised of Seatrade International Company Inc., Marder Trawling Inc., Zeus Packing Inc., and Eastern Fisheries, Inc.
"U.S. fisheries are among the most well managed fisheries in the world," said Sam Rauch, Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "Sustainable fisheries rely on a dynamic process of science informing management and working with the fishing industry to ensure responsible and accountable practices. This fishery demonstrates the strength and success of the U.S. process to provide sustainable seafood to domestic and global markets."
Shark meat from dogfish is primarily consumed in Europe and Asia. American seafood processors utilize 100% of the fish, with zero waste. The back meat (28% by weight) is used for fish and chips in Britain. The belly flaps (5%) are smoked and eaten as Schillerlocken in German. The liver (10%) is used worldwide in nutraceuticals. The head (15%) is used as bait by U.S. lobstermen and crabbers. The remainder of the carcass (39%) is used to produce organic fertilizer for agricultural use.
The highly-prized fins and tail meat (3%) are an East Asian delicacy. Shark fin consumption is important culturally in Asian societies. Shark fin soup is often served at special occasions such as weddings and banquets. Dogfish is a sustainable, humane source of shark fins. The Sustainable Fisheries Association joins concerned citizens worldwide in opposing the inhumane and destructive practice of shark "finning" at-sea.
Spiny dogfish are top-level predators, and population levels are high. As opportunistic feeders, preying on whatever is most available, many fisheries observers are concerned that an overpopulation of dogfish may be contributing to lower levels of species such as cod. Continued recreational and commercial fishing on this population under the federal and state science based management plans is both sustainable and potentially beneficial to the North Atlantic ecosystem.
"This is a step forward in the use of this resource in a responsible manner. It will open up a lot of economic opportunities for the industry as a whole and bring balance to the ecosystem," said Dr. James Sulikowski of the University of New England, who served as an external reviewer in the certification process.
"The ecology and biology of the species is much different than was once thought. It's reaching maturity faster, it's reproducing at a faster rate, and it's rebounding quicker into the ecosystem. We hypothesize that it's feeding on other groundfish stocks and limiting their ability to recover," Dr. Sulikowski continued. "No matter how much you reduce commercial and recreational fishing, those species, such as cod, would never recover because of the pressure that dogfish is putting on them -- directly by eating those groundfish and indirectly by competing with them for resources."
SOURCE Sustainable Fisheries Association