Nova Scotia crab fishery eyes European breakthrough

Nova Scotia's entire snow crab fishery now has an international environmental stamp of approval the industry hopes will allow it to expand its U.S. market and break into Europe.

This week, the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery received Marine Stewardship Council certification.

This follows certification of crab caught off the province's Atlantic coast earlier this summer. The Gulf designation also affects crab fisheries in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

"This assures buyers the raw material is from a well managed and sustainable fishery," said Peter Norsworthy, executive director of the Affiliation of Seafood Producers Association of Nova Scotia.

There are 300 fishermen in Nova Scotia landing 16,000 tonnes of crab a year.

Norsworthy said MSC certification is well timed, as Canada and European free trade talks enter final stages.

"With the environmentalists putting so much pressure on the buyers, you have to develop a sustainability chain. In Europe it's absolutely critical. There is a big buy in Europe. It's where MSC began," Norsworthy told CBC News.

The industry is waiting on Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation to approve a market research study to help them break into Europe when that market opens.

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