Copyright 2013 by Biological Conservation. All rights reserved.
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January 5, 2013

A review of formal objections to Marine Stewardship Council fisheries certifications

Publisher(s): Biological Conservation


Author(s): Claire Christian, David Ainley, Megan Bailey, Paul Dayton, John Hocevar, Michael LeVine, Jordan Nikoloyuk, Claire Nouvian, Enriqueta Velarde, Rodolfo Werner, Jennifer Jacquet

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) was created as a conservation tool – intended to provide ''the bestenvironmental choice in seafood'' to consumers and to create positive incentives that would improve thestatus and management of fisheries. During its 15 years, the MSC, which has an annual budget of close toUS$20 million, has attached its logo to more than 170 fisheries. These certifications have not occurredwithout protest. Despite high costs and difficult procedures, conservation organizations and other groupshave filed and paid for 19 formal objections to MSC fisheries certifications. Only one objection has beenupheld such that the fishery was not certified. Here, we collate and summarize these objections and themajor concerns as they relate to the MSC's three main principles: sustainability of the target fish stock,low impacts on the ecosystem, and effective, responsive management. An analysis of the formal objectionsindicates that the MSC's principles for sustainable fishing are too lenient and discretionary, andallow for overly generous interpretation by third-party certifiers and adjudicators, which means thatthe MSC label may be misleading both consumers and conservation funders.