MSC defends certification paper trail

By

Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
May 10, 2009

The Marine Stewardship Council is responding to criticism that its certification program involves too much bureaucracy and paperwork.
 
The criticism surfaced during a European Seafood Exposition conference on the sustainability of Europe's fishing industry in Brussels last week.
 
James Simpson, The MSC's communications officer, told SeafoodSource this week that the paperwork required for MSC certification is a "positive" mechanism.
 
"Inevitably paperwork is involved in traceability, because the fishery needs to demonstrate strong sustainability," he said. "The paper trail is a key part of the label."
 
Talk of the future of Europe's fishing industry picked up after European Union officials admitted in a 22 April green paper that the EU's Common Fisheries Policy is in need of an overhaul. Among its shortcomings are fleet overcapacity, imprecise policy objectives and a framework that fails to give "sufficient responsibility" to the industry.
 
The report also said that 88 percent of European fish stocks are overfished, compared to a global average of 25 percent, and that 93 percent of North Sea cod stocks are fished before the fish can breed.
 
Speakers at last week's conference, which included representatives of the European Commission and the World Wildlife Fund, largely agreed that the road to greater sustainability for the Europe's fishing industry is replacing top-down management with market regulation.
 
"Markets are good at allocating resources in an efficient way," said speaker Poul Torring, a consultant with Gemba Seafood Consulting and an adviser to the Danish government.
 
And as consumer concerns over sustainability begin to influence their purchases, industry will turn increasingly to certification to boost their position.
 
"Despite these difficult times, more fisheries are coming forward to the MSC," said Simpson. "It's a market advantage."
 
Currently, there are about 150 fisheries engaged in the MSC program.

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