First Central American and snapper fishery to enter MSC program

March 16, 2015 (Seattle, WA) – The Nicoya Peninsula artisanal snapper fishery located in the nearshore waters of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica has voluntarily entered the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) full assessment process. Targeted species in the fishery are spotted rose snapper (Lutjanus guttatus), yellow snapper (Lutjanus argentiventris), and tallfin croaker (Micropogonias altipinnis). The assessment will be conducted by third-party certifier SCS Global Services.  If it successfully achieves certification, products from the fishery would be eligible to carry the MSC’s blue ecolabel.

Spotted rose snapper

Spotted rose snapper

The MSC fishery standard is the world’s most recognized standard for the certification of environmentally sustainable and well-managed wild-capture fisheries. The transparent assessment will examine the fishery’s impact on fish stocks and the marine ecosystem. It will also evaluate the fishery’s management process to ensure that it is taking all necessary steps to protect the ocean environment for future generations.

About the Nicoya Peninsula artisanal snapper fishery

The Nicoya Peninsula artisanal snapper fishery is located off of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula and includes all Pacific waters from the northern Pacific border with Nicaragua to the point of Cabo Blanco in the south.  There are 40 vessels used by 25 to 30 families based in the coastal villages of San Francisco de Coyote and Bejuco.  ASPEPUCO and ASOBEJUCO, the artisanal fishing associations of San Francisco de Coyote and Bejuco, mandate local regulations and best fishery practices.

Fishers use artisanal bottom longlines in small vessels–known as pangas–to harvest fish year-round, though fishing generally ceases during October which is snapper spawning season and a time of year marked by increased rain.  The snapper are marketed domestically with the potential for international export once processing facilities are built.

The client for this assessment is the Costa Rican Environmental and Educational Network (ARCAE), a Costa Rican environmental and educational non-profit promoting responsible and sustainable fishing practices for the country’s small scale fisheries.  The organization is administering grants obtained by the Sea Turtle Restoration Program (Pretoma) to fund the assessment which is being performed by SCS Global Services.  Certificate sharing may be available in the future if other fisher groups agree to fishery best practices as stipulated in the local management plan.

MSC welcomes the first Central American and snapper fishery to the program

Brian Perkins, MSC’s Regional Director for the Americas, said:  We are pleased to see the Nicoya Peninsula artisanal snapper fishery come forward for assessment against the world’s most recognized standard for sustainable fishing. The commitment to responsible fishery management and sustainable practices these Costa Rican fishery associations are demonstrating by entering the MSC program is setting an example for other small scale fisheries in Central America and around the world.”

Andy Bystrom, ARCAE’s co-founder and Executive Director, said: “Nicoya bottom longline snapper fishers began assisting researchers with data taking initiatives in 2007 as a way to identify sustainable fishing methods that would ultimately improve their resilience to the complex social, environmental, and economic problems they face.  Today, they view MSC certification as a tool that can promote the fishery’s economic development through innovative marketing strategies as well as better its governance through community based management systems.”

MSC’s Standard for sustainable fishing

The assessment will measure the snapper fishery against MSC’s standard for sustainable fishing which was developed over the past 15 years in consultation with NGOs, marine scientists and industry experts.

The standard is based on three core principles:

  • Maintaining healthy populations of target species;
  • Maintaining the integrity, productivity and resilience of the wider marine ecosystem; and,
  • Effective management.

The MSC’s Global Impacts Report 2014 and Annual Report 2013-14 show that fisheries engaged in the MSC certification program are delivering improvements to the marine environment. Since 1999, those achieving MSC certification have made 575 improvements to their fishing practices, including measures to reduce unwanted bycatch of endangered species, restore habitat and improve scientific understanding of marine ecosystems.

Have your say

Stakeholder input is crucial to the outcome of a fishery assessment and all results are peer reviewed.  Anyone can be involved in the assessment process.  If you would like to bring information or concerns about the fishery to the attention of the certifier, SCS Global Services, please contact Adrienne Vincent at

About the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization set up to help transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis. The MSC runs the only certification and ecolabeling program for wild-capture fisheries consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization Guidelines for the Ecolabeling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries.  These guidelines are based upon the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing and require that credible fishery certification and ecolabeling schemes include:

The MSC has regional or area offices in London, Washington D.C., Tokyo, Sydney, The Hague, Beijing, Berlin, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Halifax, Paris, Madrid, Stockholm, Santiago, Seattle, Moscow, Salvador, Singapore and Reykjavik.

In total, over 350 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program with 253 certified and 100 under full assessment. Together, fisheries already certified or in full assessment record annual catches of around ten million metric tons of seafood.  This represents over ten per cent of the annual global harvest of wild capture fisheries. Certified fisheries currently land over eight million metric tons of seafood annually – around nine per cent of the total harvest from wild capture fisheries.  Worldwide, more than 26,000 seafood products, which can be traced back to the certified sustainable fisheries, bear the blue MSC ecolabel.

For more information on the work of the MSC, please visit

For more information on this snapper fishery:

Andy Bystrom

Tel: (506)8764-4839

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    First Central American and snapper fishery to enter MSC program March 16, 2015 (Seattle, WA) - The Nicoya Peninsula artisanal snapper fishery located in the nearshore waters of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica has voluntarily entered the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) full assessment process. Targeted...