A small-scale, artisanal fishery located within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve near Tulum in Mexico’s great Mesoamerican Reef has received certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Spiny lobsters from the fishery are now eligible to display the MSC ecolabel, because of their commitment to following sustainable practices and maintaining a well-managed fishing program.
“This is the first Caribbean lobster fishery to obtain MSC certification,” stated Jesse Marsh,manager of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) U.S. Fisheries Program’s Major Buyer Initiative. “The certified fishery will provide a product for seafood businesses interested in sourcing certified Caribbean lobster and will serve as a great role model for other lobster fisheries in the region that hope to meet the MSC standard.”
The fishery is part of the Regional Federation of Fishing Cooperatives,which operates off the coast in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatán Peninsula. The WWF also provided both funding and technical support for the MSC evaluation,which was coordinated locally by COBI,in conjunction with the fishery itself. It operates using free diving and hand harvesting methods in waters belonging to Sian Ka’an between Tulum real estate and the border of Belize.
“As someone said – success is born when we dare to start,” shared Jaime Medina-Flores,who is president of the Regional Federation of Fishing Cooperatives from Quintana Roo. “For our fishermen,having MSC certification represents more than a success; it is a possibility to obtain global support,increasing the benefits from being a responsible and orderly fishery,not only in markets,but for our activities and communities.”
Since the mid-1990s the fishery has registered a yearly catch of approximately 280 tonnes,with the lobster consumed and commercialized locally,mainly among area hotels and restaurants.
“We congratulate the fishery and all the stakeholders that made this happen,” added Marsh.