MSC eco-label could be extended to farmed fish – Fishupdate.com

MSC eco-label could be extended to farmed fish Published:  14 February, 2008

INCREASING requests have led to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) today announcing it is considering extending its eco-label to aquaculture products.

The MSC will now consult stakeholders on whether the organisation should become involved in the sector.

Given the significant difference between wild capture and aquaculture, the investigation will also examine how an aquaculture certification programme could be realised. That is, whether MSC should run such a programme itself, form a joint venture to manage such a programme, or merely provide certain services for such a programme, the organisation says.

The work will be commissioned over the coming months and will be a major discussion at MSC’s next Stakeholder Council meeting. The MSC says it hopes that the Global Fishery Client Group meeting being held in April will discuss this issue.

“No decision will be taken without a considerable amount of additional dialogue debate and consultation with all the MSC key stakeholder’s constituents and MSC’s Board of Trustees,” the organisation said in a statement.

In November 2006, the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Board of Directors made a decision not to expand the scope of the organisation’s existing wild capture fisheries certification and labelling programme to encompass seafood products from aquaculture.

“Fully aware of the significant and growing importance of the aquaculture industry and of its overall contribution to the global seafood industry this issue was not taken lightly and the Board decision was made after lengthy and detailed discussions,” the MSC said.

“In those discussions, several MSC stakeholders – including major international retailers and processors around the world but also some within the conservation community and seafood industry itself – strongly believed that MSC should engage in aquaculture and had been expressing these views for a number of years. However, these views were not universally held. Several fishery clients expressed equally strong views that MSC should not engage in aquaculture fearing that such a move could undermine the value of MSC certification for wild capture fisheries.

“The Board decided that MSC needed to focus all of its limited resources, management time and energy to delivering its core mission and objectives. The organisation was part way through a major systems and process review of the quality and consistency of individual fishery assessments and of the MSC supply chain, and did not want to get distracted from concluding and delivering these strategically important projects, which are scheduled to be rolled out later in 2008.

“This work includes the launch of standardised assessment trees and scoring guideposts to help simplify and speed up the independent assessment process and a number of measures such as random product trace backs and DNA testing, in addition to the annual independent chain of custody audits for all MSC chain of custody licence holders, to further strengthen the robustness of the MSC chain of custody,” the statement continued.

The MSC says, as it has grown and its wild capture programme has gained significant support from the industry and penetration of its labelled products into the market, it has received an increasing number of requests for the organisation to engage in aquaculture.

“We understand that the preparation of standards that can be applied to aquaculture has also progressed significantly since 2006 with, as widely reported in the trade press, several organisations now actively engaged in the development and launch of aquaculture standards including WWF.

“It is in response to these developments and also to the continued and growing need for aquaculture certification, that the Board of the MSC has agreed to commission detailed and comprehensive stakeholder analysis to review its 2006 decision and to ask if the MSC should seek to get involved in aquaculture certification.”

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