In order to ensure the success of the Smarter Seafood certification, it is necessary to show transparency in the scientific methodology used in the development of the species list.
First, it is important to understand what the designation “Smarter Seafood” means. For a species to be considered Smarter Seafood, it must meet 4 selection criteria. Any species not meeting either of these criteria will be rejected from the list.
The selection criteria are as follows:
1) The species is edible.
The species is fit for human consumption.
2) In sufficient quantity in the St. Lawrence.
The species must not be designated in any way for any population according to the designations in effect for COSEWIC.
COSEWIC is the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. It annually evaluates and designates wild endangered species in Canada.. The species must have a COSEWIC status of “not at risk” to meet this criterion for all populations. In other words, a species with “not at risk” status for the southern Gulf population, but with “species of special concern” status for the estuary population, will not be listed by Smarter Seafood.
3) The fishing technique is respectful of the seabed.
The catches must be made with gear that complies with the concept of sustainable exploitation or a majority proportion of the catches must be made with gear that complies with the concept of sustainable exploitation.
We refer to “sustainable gear” as gear that generates little or no disturbance to the seabed habitat so that fishing can take place over several years without destroying the habitat. Trawls and drags are not considered to be sustainable, with the exception of the Northern shrimp trawl, which has been modified to meet the criterion. As regards species fished with different fishing gears, they can be considered Smarter Seafood if the majority of catches are made with gears that comply with the concept of sustainable exploitation.
4) The species needs a little help to become better known.
The level of commercialization is evaluated by MAPAQ. The level of commercial development rating is divided into several categories: inexistent, weak, growing, average and high. For a species to be considered Smarter Seafood, it must have a level of commercial value equal to or lower than “average”.
It should be noted that species from aquaculture may be considered Smarter Seafood. These species can be found at the end of the Smarter Seafood list in the aquaculture species section. Criteria 2 and 3 are not applicable in these circumstances.
The Smarter Seafood List is completely reviewed each year through a strict process.
To establish the list of Smarter Seafood species, Exploramer biologists first determine the inventory of edible species in the St. Lawrence. Secondly, scientific and commercial information is gathered from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) researchers and specialists from the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ). Subsequently, an initial selection is made by cross-referencing data set up by Exploramer biologists. This preliminary list is presented to a committee of socioscientific experts for comments and returns to the Exploramer team for final ratification.