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'Sustainable fishing' certification too lenient and discretionary, study finds
Date:4/10/2013

the viability of MSC's labeling program, the researchers examined 19 formal objectionsraised primarily by environmental groups and amounting to one-third, by weight, of all MSC-certified seafoodto certifications MSC has granted to fisheries for Chilean sea bass, Antarctic krill, and others. Objections are heard by an independent adjudicator appointed by MSC. In all but one of these 19 cases, the certification was upheld.

In the Biological Conservation analysis, the researchers sought to determine whether these fisheries, in fact, met the MSC's principles for certification.

The MSC uses three major principles that third-party certifiers interpret in determining whether a fishery is "sustainable" and may use the MSC label: sustainability of the target fish stock; low impacts on the ecosystem; and effective management. However, the researchers found many of these fisheriesrepresenting 35 percent of eco-labeled seafooddid not meet MSC standards.

For instance, the longline fishery for swordfish in Canada appears to violate the "low impacts on the ecosystem" principle. This fishery has high levels of bycatchsea life accidentally caught in pursuit of other fish. The targeted catch of 20,000 swordfish per year results in bycatch of approximately 100,000 sharks as well as 1,200 endangered loggerhead and 170 critically endangered leatherback turtles.

"The MSC's narrow definition of sustainability is out of step with the general public perception of what that term means," said Claire Christian, one of the study's co-authors and a policy analyst at the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. "When the MSC labels a swordfish fishery that catches more sharks than swordfish 'sustainable,' it's time to re-evaluate its standards."

The Alaska pollock fishery, one of the largest fisheries in the US, also received MSC certification even though, the researchers noted, several court rulings had determined that the fishery was not in c
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Contact: James Devitt
james.devitt@nyu.edu
212-998-6808
New York University
Source:Eurekalert

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