The certification of seafood as "sustainable" by the nonprofit Marine Stewardship Council is too lenient and discretionary, a study by a consortium of researchers has found.
"When consumers want sustainable fish there are two options to meet the demand: fisheries can become more sustainable or the definition of sustainable can be watered down to be practically meaninglesswith MSC seafood, the definition has been repeatedly watered down," said Jennifer Jacquet, a clinical assistant professor in New York University's Environmental Studies Program and one of 11 authors of the study, which appears in the journal Biological Conservation.
The study may be read here: http://bit.ly/ZFKU5Y.
The expansion of fishing in the oceansfurther offshore, deeper, and for different specieshas led to the depletion of many marine fish populations. In response, market-based efforts aimed at consumers, which include "eco-labeling," have emerged to change demand. Among these was the establishment of the London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 1997. A joint project between World Wildlife Fund and Unilever, MSC was created as a conservation toolintended to provide "the best environmental choice in seafood" to consumers and to create positive incentives that would improve the status and management of fisheries.
However, conservation groups have raised concerns about MSC's certification process, calling into question the organization's claim that its eco-labeling program is "the best environmental choice in seafood." Its certification process is paid for by the fisheries, with rates dependent on the size and complexity of the fishery. MSC estimates that most certifications cost between $15,000 and $120,000. Since its founding, MSC has attached its certified label to more than 170 fisheries, with fishery clients spending between $2.3 and $18.7 million on certification.
|Contact: James Devitt|
New York University