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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Marine Stewardship Council

Anne Gabriel, Programme Director, Oceania and Singapore at the Marine Stewardship Council:

The paper published in Plos One referenced by Greenpeace NZ fails to consider the full breadth of the MSC’s work and the diversity of the fishing sector.

The main accusation is that the MSC has used imagery to present a false picture of our work to the world. This is wholly untrue. We do not consider analysis of the photographs used on the MSC’s Facebook account to be a relevant or credible indictor for evaluating a science-based certification programme. The MSC works with and promotes sustainability for all types and sizes of fisheries. This is vital if we are to address the global challenge of overfishing.  

The percentage of small-scale fisheries achieving MSC certification (currently around 16%) does not reflect the breadth of the MSC’s work to support these fisheries. Given their social, economic and environmental importance, we provide small-scale fisheries with funding, training and tools to help them improve their sustainability. It may take many years for most to achieve certification, but we’re focused on the long-term.  

As anyone working in this sector will understand, the sustainability of a fishery is not determined by its size or fishing gear. All fishing gear can have negative impacts on marine biodiversity if poorly managed. The important thing is to make sure that whatever the gear and the size of the boat, it is managed and used in such a way as to respect stocks, habitats and all the surrounding marine species. These are two of the three pillars of our standard that fisheries must meet to be MSC certified.

The social and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic underline the importance of balancing the needs of businesses, fishermen and citizens within the limits of what our planet can sustain. The MSC has spent the past 20 years working together with the entire fishing industry, scientists, government and NGOs to strike this balance. Our ultimate objective is for all fishing to be sustainable. This is why we work with fisheries of all sizes: from the smallest to the largest.

The MSC complies with the highest levels of credibility, transparency and best practice in standards setting. This has been demonstrated through our compliance to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s guidelines for certification and ecolabelling and ISEAL codes for standard setting, assurance and impacts. In 2019, the UK government enquiry into Sustainable Seas found the MSC is the “most rigorous certification in the seafood sector” and a study on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality ranked MSC in the top 10 sustainable food labels in the Netherlands. These reviews take a far more comprehensive review of the MSC’s practices than the report presented by Bloom.

To conclude, seafood which carries the blue MSC label comes from fisheries which have been independently scrutinised by experts as meeting internationally recognised standards of best practice in sustainable fishing, no matter where it came from.

MIL OSI New Zealand News