MSC: ‘Certified fisheries are sustainable’


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 1, 2010

The Marine Stewardship Council on Thursday immediately responded to a report the 2 September issue of the journal Nature criticizing the sustainable seafood program.

Authored by six scientists from University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego, the report blasted the MSC for certifying fisheries as sustainable when they do not merit such recognition, creating a system that rewards certifiers with lenient certifications and charging substantial fees to file an objection, among other criticisms.

In an 1,800-word response posted on the MSC website, the London-based nonprofit defended its program’s credibility and assured that all fisheries certified to the MSC standard are sustainable and well-managed: “The MSC standard is a measure of the sustainability of a fishery against well-defined principles and criteria. The bar at which a fishery demonstrates it is well-managed and sustainable represents a broad scientific consensus, agreed by over 200 marine biologists, scientists, environmentalists and other stakeholders from around the world.”

The MSC called its program outcome-based, rejecting the authors’ opinion that bottom-trawl and fishmeal fisheries should not be deemed responsible and sustainable.

“The MSC program does not prescribe gear types or specify the final use of fishery products,” said the MSC. “As an outcome based program, it requires all fisheries seeking to be certified meet the science-based principles and criteria of the MSC standard that together are a measure of the status of the stock, the level of impact on the environment and the management system the fishery has in place.”

Referring to its program as “highly transparent and participatory,” the MSC said it encourages participation in its objection process and has recently reduced the maximum cost from GBP 15,000 to GBP 5,000 to help ensure access by all stakeholders, and objectors that lack financial resources may qualify for an exemption from the cost.

“The MSC program is, and from the outset of the assessment stakeholders with an interest in the fishery are invited to take part in the assessment and submit information to the expert scientific team.

The organization went on to defend the certification of several fisheries, including Antarctic krill, Alaska pollock and Pacific hake.

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