News / Sustainable Fish

Seafood certification to be improved

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) tells MPs that their certification “isn’t perfect” and will improve the governing of independent certifiers.

Fishing boat. Photo credit: Sebastian Voortman. Pexels

Fishing boat. Photo credit: Sebastian Voortman. Pexels

The MSC, who are part of the Sustain alliance, have previously been criticised for flaws in their certification system. NGOs and MPs raised concerns that there are conflicts of interests  which jeopardises the MSC’s impartiality.

This week Rupert Howes, the CEO of MSC, gave evidence to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s Sustainable Seas inquiry. According to The Grocer Howes admitted that the MSC’s certification scheme “isn’t perfect” and they will take action to improve the governance of independent certifiers who accredit fisheries on the MSC’s behalf. He said: “there are opportunities to move more quickly on aspects of assurance such as how certifiers are performing and we will be working with those stakeholders to see how we can bring in those improvements more quickly.”

Ruth Westcott, Co-ordinator of Sustainable Fish Cities at Sustain, who gave written evidence to the inquiry, warns of the risks of rejecting independent certification schemes:

“After a great deal of collective effort, in the UK we are beginning to reach consensus about the definition of sustainable fish as a buying standard. Businesses serving over 700 million meals per year have signed up to our sustainable fish standards and they have MSC certified fish at their heart.

A step away from the MSC would be a step backwards. We are concerned that without credible ecolabels on packs and on menus it will be almost impossible for the NGO community, or citizens, to differentiate the policies of one business from another. Companies will develop their own, less transparent and unverifiable claims about sustainability. Retailers have a history of contested claims about provenance and sustainability. It would be a big step backwards if the UK market turned to such communication instead."

The MSC will unveil its updated unit of assessment on 25 September.

Sustainable Fish Cities is urging companies and consumers to buy only fish which is verifiably sustainable. If you are a business which serves fish, you can be recognised for your commitment by signing up to the Sustainable Fish Cities pledge and join a prestigious list of organisations taking action on this important issue.

Published 13 Sep 2018

Sustainable Fish: A campaign to protect precious marine environments and fishing livelihoods, and call for fish to be bought from sustainable sources. We want to show what can be done if people and organisations make a concerted effort to change their buying habits.

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