More About MSC Illex

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) released exciting news last week: that the illex squid fishery is certified sustainable.

“The certification of the North Atlantic Illex fishery is very exciting for us and for sustainability-minded consumers,” said Ryan Clark, CEO of The Town Dock said in the MSC’s press release.

MSC is considered the world’s most credible standard for validating sustainable, wild-caught seafood. Certification is not a quick or easy process: full assessment takes between 6 and 18 months to complete and is done by independent certifiers. Fisheries are judged on MSC’s three standard principles: sustainable fish stocks, minimized environmental impacts, and effective management. After certification, there are annual audits to ensure continued compliance.

The illex fishery is only the second squid fishery in the world to be MSC certified, after the North Atlantic Loligo fishery was certified last year. The Town Dock is one of only two companies to offer these sustainable species.

“Being able to offer MSC certified illex demonstrates our ongoing commitment to offering our customers a wide variety of only the best calamari,” said Clark. “We’ve seen the consumer demand for another USA calamari, and we’ve seen the demand for another sustainable seafood product. Illex satisfies both.”

Illex (Illex illecebrosus), also called the Northern Shortfin Squid, is harvested from offshore waters in the northern Atlantic. It is not only abundant, but due to the offshore location, there is very little bycatch of other species.

It can be difficult to handle and process, which has kept it out of the mainstream USA foodservice market until recent years. It has always been a popular choice in Europe and Asia.

“We really saw the promise in illex and worked hard to refine our processes,” said Clark. “We released it as our Premium Domestic Calamari line in 2017 and it’s grown in popularity ever since.”

“It is a perfect fit in our lineup alongside our Rhode Island Calamari (North Atlantic Loligo),” Clark continued. “It is a little larger and has a more savory flavor, which some chefs prefer. It is also readily available year-round and more competitively priced, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a product of the USA calamari.”

Seafood that is harvested on and after the MSC certification date can carry the MSC Bluefish Ecolabel. However, because the squid caught today still needs to be processed, you won’t see our Premium Domestic Calamari line carrying the Ecolabel just yet. International customers looking for whole frozen squid will have access soon. Follow us on our social media sites for updates on when you’ll see the blue label!

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