Marine Stewardship Council to assist England in next World Cup of Soccer?

Maybe the English football/soccer team should talk to the Marine Stewardship Council to have it assist in the next World Cup?

The MSC record is perfect, impeccable…

89 Wins – 0 Losses – no draws.

Monday’s MSC “independent” adjudication (by an adjudicator on salary to the MSC) dismissed objections from three B.C. organizations to the MSC’s “independent” review of the Fraser sockeye fishery (the same fishery that hasn’t actually happened in three years because of “low abundance” — Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ new favorite oxymoron).

eco-sustainable according to the MSC

The Marine Stewardship Council is now approaching “eco-certification” on 10% of the world’s fisheries. There are now 89 fisheries “eco-certified” including one of the biggest fisheries on Earth – Bering Sea Pollock fisheries.

Which, coincidentally, catches more salmon as bycatch (i.e. tossed overboard dead) then some of the salmon-focussed commercial fisheries of western Alaska – which also “coincidentally” crashed this past year on the Yukon River — see post from earlier this year: solving the mystery of ocean conditions and disappearing salmon. Both “ecocertified” by the MSC.

How is it Marine Stewardship Council that you can certify one fishery that leads to the collapse of another one of your “ecocertified” fisheries?

In all 89 fisheries “ecocertifed”… number of certifications denied?  Zero.

Number of certifications denied  after independent adjudication of objections?


Number of certifications taken away because fishery deemed no longer sustainable?


Even the New Zealand hoki fishery, one of the first MSC ecocertified fisheries — collapsed a few years after certification. Was the little blue label taken off?


This “eco-certification” scheme is a joke.

The organization was originally formed through a partnership of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the mega transnational corporation Unilever (once one of the biggest sellers of packaged fish in the world). The MSC now has independence from its corporate-colonial roots and runs around asking national governments for money to fund its operations.

I’m not sure if they know how to spell “greenwash” in the London MSC offices – but it’s with a capital “G”. And fraud is with an “f”.

And thanks to the active participation of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the MSC process…

7 thoughts on “Marine Stewardship Council to assist England in next World Cup of Soccer?

  1. kd

    I guess no failures is a consequence of ‘paying’ someone to Certify you…You tend to get what you pay for.

    Additionally, if your chosen Certifier raised too many questions or chose not to Certify….the client can always just find another Certifier….wow, that’s a pretty easy way to assure certification.

    Unless we see massive changes from DFO to address all the ‘conditions’ this MSC process will continue to look like the big joke it is. Plus, MSC should scrap this ‘conditional’ aspect and just certfiy fisheries when they have changed..not before.

  2. Fishyfellow

    I think that MSC had good intentions but they have lost their way. Their brand and ecolabel are rapidly loosing value as MSC adds more controversial “conditional” sustainability assessments to the list of those fisheries that can carry their “prestigious” blue ecolabel.

    Only fisheries that are clearly sustainable now, and likely to be so into the future, should be certified sustainable. This may not be what the fishing industry wants but it is what we want and we happen to own the resource. If MSC is to succeed it has to run the certification process to the benefit of society in general and not exclusively for the fishing industry. These are public resources that need to be managed for long term public good.

    There seems to be little point to formal objections to MSC certification. The ambit of the “Independent Adjudicator” on salary to MSC is so narrowly defined by MSC, and the “deference” afforded the certification body so great, that the outcome seems assured. Blogging and other public media are much more effective and cheaper ways of getting MSC either to clean up their act or to hasten their demise if they do not.

    In the meantime support the smaller local and national competition, programs like Seafood Watch in the US and Seachoice in Canada. Seafood they red-list should be avoided because it comes from unsustainable fisheries, even if these same fisheries carry the MSC blue label.

    MSC can change direction if they want to and make a real contribution to sustainability, but their snowballing expansionism and disregard for the opinion of those that own the resource, the civil public, suggests they will in the end be the architects of their own demise, unless they smarten up their act.

    Keep blogging Salmon Guy!

  3. kd

    Interesting and differing view of the effect/impact of MSC from north coast fisher union reps in this article. The rep seems to feel the stringent conditions will hurt their gillnet fishery.

    I’m still in the “..we’ll believe it when we see it…” camp. Calling for changes and actually making changes are two completely different things….especially on the north coast where status quo rules.

  4. salmon guy Post author

    thanks for the comment. I suppose the big difficulty as I keep harping on is what definition of “sustainable”? Who’s definition? and how do we measure?

    I was recently criticized in an academic course I was taking related to environmental studies for suggesting that the old Bruntland Commission definition of “sustainable development” is pretty ambiguous and fluffy. It’s some nice words on paper with little for folks to measure off of it… and hence why much hasn’t changed on that front since the 1980s when the definition was fronted.

    The MSC might as well go public on the London Exchange… it’s corporate in its approach in so many ways… and “growth” is generally the modus operandi of the corporate world… isn’t it?

  5. salmon guy Post author

    I hear you on that… I don’t see fundamental changes occurring in DFO anytime soon. Unless the Cohen Commission or otherwise blows them open… (not holding my breath though).

  6. Peter Shelton

    I tried with colleague Alan Sinclair to narrow down the definition of a sustainable fishery in a paper published in 2008:
    Shelton, P.A. and Sinclair, A.F. 2008. It’s time to sharpen our definition of sustainable fisheries management. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 65: 2305-2314.

    You may also be interested in a paper published in 2009 on Ecocertification:
    Shelton, P.A. 2009. Eco-certification of sustainably managed fisheries – Redundancy or synergy? Fisheries Research 100:185-190.

    Both can be downloaded as pdf’s here:

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