Need for change signalled by Howes –

Need for change signalled by Howes Published:  11 January, 2008

Rupert Howes

DEMAND for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified seafood products is outstripping supply for some species, admits the Council’s chief executive, Rupert Howes. And, due to the strict assessment criteria, many fisheries will have to change their current practices in order to comply with MSC standards.

Speaking in the run up to Fish International 2008, in Bremen, Mr Howes said: “It is true that MSC-labelled supplies are not meeting market demand for some species and product specifications just yet. This is due to the fact that the MSC programme is still relatively new and assessment to the MSC standard is a big commitment.

“Many fisheries see a need to change their practices before considering themselves ready for a comprehensive and strict assessment of their environmental performance.

As part of Fish International 2008, due to be held at the Bremen Exhibition Centre from February 10-12, Mr Howes will be addressing delegates on the role of the MSC and how to buy sustainable fish. This ties in with the exhibition’s central theme of sustainability throughout the supply chain.

Titled “Sustainability determines product ranges”, the MSC’s presentation will be part of the Food Retailing Forum at fish international, scheduled for February 11

Mr Howes commented: “Three quarters of the oceans’ fish stocks are either fished to their limit or in decline. The world’s population is growing at a fast rate and consumes more and more fish and seafood. It is clear that we have to preserve fish stocks to secure supplies, safeguard livelihoods and maintain the functionality of the oceans’ ecosystems.

“The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) was founded to address this challenge. Our third-party environmental certification and eco-labelling programme for fisheries and the supply chain creates market incentives for the sustainable exploitation of seafood resources.”

He continued: “Germany has seen a steady increase in MSC-labelled seafood items in the past two years and sells the highest volume of MSC-labelled products worldwide. Currently, there are over 130 labelled items in retail and foodservice outlets. Major players such as Aldi, Deutsche See, Friedrichs, Frosta, iglo, Lidl and Metro have launched products from MSC-certified fisheries and intend to widen their offer continuously.

“A growing number of seafood companies are seeking certification to our traceability standard to be able to offer their customers certified sustainable fish. Retailers are placing seafood sustainability higher on their agenda due to supply concerns and pressure from NGOs and the public. On the fisheries side, North Sea saithe is the first German fishery to be assessed to the MSC standard.”

About 400 exhibitors from 40 countries will be taking part in Germany’s leading trade fair for fish and seafood. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.