Established in 1997 by the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever, one of the world’s largest fish retailers, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has been helping consumers eat fish “guilt-free” by certifying fisheries. Major North American grocery chains such as Wal-Mart, Whole Foods and Europe’s Waitrose carry seafood bearing the blue-mark label as part of their sustainability strategy.
But in an opinion piece published in the current issue of Nature, six researchers from Canada, Italy and the U.S. object to the many of the MSC’s procedures and certification of certain species.
“The MSC is supposed to be a solution, but a lot of what they do has turned against biology in favor of bureaucracy,” says Jennifer Jacquet, lead author and post-doctoral fellow with UBC’s Sea Around Us Project.
The largest MSC-certified fishery, with an annual catch of one million tonnes, is the U.S. trawl fishery for pollock in the eastern Bering Sea. It was certified in 2005 and recommended for recertification this summer.
“Pollock has been certified despite a 64 percent decline of the population’s spawning biomass between 2004 and 2009, with no solid evidence for recovery. This has worrisome implications for possible harmful impacts on other species and fisheries besides the viability of the pollock fishery itself,” says Jeremy Jackson from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. “How is that sustainable?”
Paul Dayton, also of Scripps Oceanography, and David Ainley, a biologist who works in the Antarctic, remain concerned about the recent certification of krill and the proposed certification of toothfish.
“The certification of the Ross Sea is an embarrassment as it flies in the face of existing data and denies any sense of precautionary management,” says Dayton.
“We’re especially concerned about the recent certification of Antarctic krill despite estimates of long-term decline and a link between krill population depletion and declining sea ice in areas sensitive to climate change,” says Daniel Pauly, head of UBC’s Sea Around Us Project. “The rationale for this certification is on further thin ice because the catch is destined to feed farmed fish, pigs and chicken.”
Fisheries that are being heavily depleted, reliant on high-impact methods such as bottom trawling and that aren’t destined for human consumption should be excluded from certification, conclude the authors, which include Sidney Holt, a founding father of fisheries science.
“The MSC should not certify fisheries that are not demonstrably sustainable, fisheries that use high-impact methods such as bottom trawling and/or fisheries that aren’t destined for human consumption,” says Pauly.
“The MSC needs to strengthen its commitment to its own principles in order to fulfill its promise to be ‘the best environmental choice,’” says Jackson.
The authors also note that the current certification system, which relies on for-profit consultants and costing as much as $150,000, presents a potential conflict of interest and discriminates against small-scale fisheries and fisheries from developing countries, most of which use highly selective and sustainable techniques.
Dayton points out that “the failure of the MSC hurts the populations that are not sustainably taken and their ecosystems; it deprives the public of an opportunity to make a meaningful choice and it damages those fisheries that are well managed – this is especially important for those sustainable small-scale fisheries competing with the giants that buy certifications they have not earned.”
“Unless MSC goes under major reform, there are better, more effective ways to spend the certifier’s $13-million annual budget to help the oceans, such as lobbying for the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies or establishing marine protected areas,” says Jacquet.
| Newswise Science News
Listening in: Acoustic monitoring devices detect illegal hunting and logging
14.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.
How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences