Oysters harvested in Texas and Louisiana by Prestige Oysters have entered into a full Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment.
The fishery is the first oyster fishery in the United States to enter MSC assessment, and if certification is granted, it would be the only oyster fishery certified in all of the Americas.
The assessment will involve an independent, third party-process by accredited certification body MRAG Americas.
The certification decision for Texas and Louisiana oysters is expected to be made in the fall.
Raz Hailil of Prestige Oysters said the company was committed to investing and building oyster reefs to create the wild oyster fishery for over two decades.
"MSC certification is important not only to us but also our supply chain to ensure the highest standards are met," Hailil said.
The American cupped oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is native to the Texas and Louisiana waters. The oysters are harvested by boat dredges on private leases.
Private leases may contain oyster reefs that are either natural or constructed from deposition of cultch (oyster shell, limestone, concrete) placed on soft bottom in suitable depths for oyster growth.
Without additional cultch or natural growth of oysters that provides dead shell, the reefs would disappear over time, leaving little impact on the marine environment.
"Oysters are an important commercial species as well as play a significant role in the marine ecosystem," said Brian Perkins, MSC Americas regional director.
"If the fishery achieves certification, it will be validation of the fishery’s hard work to harvest oysters sustainably."