AMERICA's Atlantic scallop fishery has been certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, following an independent assessment by Intertek Moody Marine.

The 14 member companies of the American Scallop Association (ASA) participating in the client group are now eligible to display the blue MSC ecolabel on catch from this fishery.

The MSC certificate covers Atlantic sea scallops fished along the US Atlantic coast, from Maine to North Carolina, by limited entry federal permits. The fleet comprises all vessels with limited entry permits that direct their fishery for scallops and accounts for 95 percent of the total US catch of this species.

Scallop fishing in east coast waters dates back 120 years. According to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) data, the fishery landed more than 50 million pounds of scallops in 2012, making it the highest value fishery in the United States.

The primary commercial markets are restaurants and retail outlets across the United States and European Union. Scallops are sold as meats either fresh or frozen and are available in many prepared foods. The commercial fishery is conducted year round under National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) management and all vessels shuck the scallops on board.

The fishery uses New Bedford dredge gear and consists of 348 vessels fishing out of many ports on the east coast. The two most significant landing ports are New Bedford, Massachusetts and Cape May, New Jersey.

Attorney John F Whiteside, Jr, speaking on behalf of the American Scallop Association, said: "The US Atlantic sea scallop fishery is the most valuable fishery in the United States and the success and sustainability of the fishery is due to comprehensive and careful management practices being implemented by all stakeholders in the fishery. We are pleased to receive documentation that the US Atlantic sea scallop fishery is certified as sustainable under the MSC standard. It is an especially important accomplishment, which confirms that the members of the American Scallop Association are responsible stewards of the resource."

"The MSC congratulates members of the American Scallop Association on gaining MSC certification for the US sea scallop fishery," said Jim Humphreys, Fisheries Director for MSC Americas. "MSC certified scallops are highly sought after by chefs and consumers and they will appreciate this fishery's newly certified status demonstrating, through a rigorous scientific process, its commitment to sustainability."

Intertek Moody Marine, an independently accredited certifier, was the certifier for this assessment. During the assessment, the three principles of the MSC standard were evaluated in detail: the status of the fish stock, the impact of the fishery on the marine ecosystem and the management system overseeing the fishery.