MSC welcomes FAO guidelines on marine eco-labelling –

MSC welcomes FAO guidelines on marine eco-labelling Published:  01 April, 2005

THE Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) welcomes the publication of eco-label guidelines for fish and fishery products by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and says it is a significant endorsement of eco-labelling as a tool to achieve the sustainable management of fisheries.

“We believe eco-labels based on robust procedures and the principles of transparency, accountability and independence can help sustain the world’s marine resources for the future,” said Rupert Howes, MSC’s chief executive. “The shape and detail of the FAO’s new guidelines recognise the MSC’s pioneering work in establishing high quality fishery eco-labelling. Our standard is already consistent with the core FAO requirements, and our track record of effective systems, commercial success and consumer recognition is strengthened by the setting of this credible international minimum.”

The MSC programme was developed in 1997 in line with existing international guides for standard setting, certification and accreditation such as the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the International Standards Organisation. The MSC programme shares key characteristics with the new FAO guidelines including:

· objective, third-party fishery assessment utilising scientific evidence;

· transparent processes with built-in stakeholder consultation;

· a three-pronged standard based on the sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices.

The MSC was involved in the development of the guidelines through the FAO’s stakeholder consultation process. The FAO guidelines provide a structure for internationally recognised eco-label programmes and will not lead to an FAO ‘own-label’ certification scheme, which is against the FAO’s constitution.

More than 230 MSC-labelled seafood products are available in 23 countries, including South African hake, New Zealand hoki and Alaska pollock. With 11 certified fisheries and 16 fisheries in full assessment, the MSC programme now accounts for 4% of the world’s edible wild fish catch.