29 January 2018

66 conservation organisations call on Marine Stewardship Council to clean up its act

Born Free has joined a group of 66 conservation and animal protection organisations who are criticizing the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for its failure to implement standards aimed at reducing the environmental and ecological impacts of commercial fisheries.

The MSC operates a voluntary eco-labelling scheme aimed at assuring the public that by purchasing MSC-certified products, they are supporting sustainable and well-managed fisheries. It claims its standards are science-based, and that certification is carried out by independent, third-party assessment bodies.

However, in a letter to the MSC’s Chair Werner Kiene, the group of 66 organisations has criticized the MSC in a number of key respects.

Increasing numbers of fisheries have been awarded MSC certification in spite of the fact that they catch many thousands of vulnerable and endangered animals as ‘by-catch’, and cause irreversible harm to critical and delicate ocean habitats.

The organisations are asking the MSC to view the criticisms as an opportunity to engage with marine conservation experts from around the world in order to improve MSC standards, and ensure the public can have confidence in them when they buy products derived from MSC-certified fisheries. In particular, the organisations are asking the MSC to:

Bar any fisheries from its certification scheme that deliberately set nets to capture marine mammals or other endangered, threatened and protected species;

Demand that any fisheries targeting sharks operate a strict ‘fins naturally attached’ policy to ensure that shark-finning operations cannot be certified; and

Refuse to certify any fisheries that damage and destroy vulnerable marine ecosystems by trawling the sea floor.

Born Free believes that the MSC has an important role to play in encouraging sustainable and environmentally responsible commercial fishing. However, the public will only retain confidence in MSC-labelled products if its principles of sustainability, minimal environmental impacts, and effective management, are strictly and comprehensively applied.



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