Friday, June 18, 2010

Editorial laments MSC Certifications

An editorial by the vice-chair of a Scottish environmental non-profit laments the increasing number of fisheries that are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) despite concerns about their sustainability. In particular, the bizarre insistence of the MSC that bottom trawling is not a destructive fishing practice is criticized:

The issue is of burning relevance to our local waters. In Scotland there has long been concern over bottom trawling for prawns - it decimates the bottom living ecosystem, destroying the early food of white fish, and rare sea pens and even endangered firework anemones. Research in the Clyde estuary in a 10 month period in 2007 also showed that the bycatch in turn is extremely destructive of juvenile fish. In total over 31 million dead juvenile fish were found in the bycatch with an average weight of 63 grams. Yet prawn trawling in NW Scotland has received MSC certification and the Clyde Fishermen’s Association is pressing for the MSC Blue Label for their mobile prawn trawlers. This is madness when the damage done by the trawling methods is well-documented. One of the reasons the Clyde is so depleted of white fish, and known as the Newfoundland of Scotland, is the destructive mobile trawling methods.
The author also makes the excellent point that certification is increasingly driven by profit. Certifiers are eager to get more business. Supermarkets want to sell certified seafood. But if MSC is about protecting seafood and not applying a thin veneer of sustainability to fisheries that can make a case that they aren't actively destroying the species they target, then it's time MSC took notice of these kinds of criticisms and addressed them substantively - a defensive press release is not a substantive response, by the way.

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