Fish is an increasingly popular source of protein and lifestyle food choice. High demand for fish and inadequate management of many fisheries has resulted in sub-optimum production and economic and environmental performance. Initiatives to address these problems include regional and international fisheries agreements, NGO-campaigns and industry-led management innovations. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) was established in 1997 by Unilever and WWF to harness market forces as an incentive to improve management of fisheries. Through extensive consultation with fishery stakeholders the MSC established a standard describing a well-managed and sustainable fishery (the MSC Principles and Criteria). The MSC accredits independent certifiers to assess fisheries (fish stocks) against the MSC Standard. If a fishery achieves certification, companies selling products from the fishery are eligible to use the MSC Logo—providing they can demonstrate traceability of the product to a certified fishery, by way of a Chain of Custody assessment. The first two fisheries achieved MSC certification in March 2000; others are currently being assessed. Immediate management improvements resulting from certification include improved research, management and data collection, which were required as conditions of certification. Initial indications suggest increased demand by retailers for the newly certified products. Future success of the MSC Certification Program will depend on the MSC’s ability to address challenges including: winning and maintaining the confidence of all stakeholders; building public awareness of the MSC Logo; ensuring the MSC Standard is relevant to all commercial capture fisheries; and keeping on the right side of international trade rules.
Keywords: Fishery Management, Certification, Accreditation, Marine Stewardship Council
Peacey, J. The Marine Stewardship Council Fisheries Certification Program: Progress and Challenges. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.