Over the last few years, many industries have become more environmentally conscience. They have gone green, focusing on promoting sustainable living and minimizing impacts on the ecology. The marine fisheries industry is no exception.
The world's largest promoter of fisheries sustainability is the Marine Stewardship Council(MSC). The MSC is an international, non-profit organization that has developed standards and a certification program to validate that portions of the fisheries industry are environmentally friendly. Currently, 14 nations participate in the program, including the United States, Canada, England, Australia, Norway and Japan.
The council was founded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), formerly the World Wildlife Fund, and by Unilever, a global corporate food and beverage giant, in 1997. According to their 2009 annual report, they have been very highly successful is promoting sustainable fishing. Over six million tons of seafood were either certified or under assessment, about 7 % of the world's total harvest.In 2009 alone, MSC-certified and labeled seafood products had risen from 1,421 to 2,366, a remarkable increase of 67 %.
Certification for fisheries, suppliers and restaurants
According to the MSC, their certification and eco-labeling program is a third-party program, that is, independent certifiers perform assessments of fisheries and businesses to ensure their standards for sustainable fishing and traceability are met. This ensures the program meets guidelines for standard-setting organizations as established by the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance (ISEAL) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
With experts, the MSC developed standards for sustainable fishing and seafood traceability. They ensure that MSC-labeled seafood, a big part of their effort, originates from a sustainable fishery. The label informs consumers that the product is the best environmental choice in seafood. Other certification benefits as well as possible problems can be found in this article.
The MSC certification program is a 7-step process:
1. Announcement and assessment team formation.
2. Building an assessment tree.
3. Information gathering.
4. Client and peer review.
5. Public review of the draft assessment report.
6. Final report and determination.
7. Public certification report and certificate issuance.
Supply Chain Certification
The Supply Chain Certification for seafood traceability ensures that the MSC label is only displayed on seafood from a certified sustainable fishery. If a fishery is certified as meeting the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing, use of the label on seafood products is permitted only where there has been independent verification that the product originated from a certified fishery.
Chain of Custody assessments are undertaken by independently accredited certifiers. In order to become certified an interested party must contact an MSC approved certifier who will then guide the applicant.
Restaurants can obtain certification through MSC's pilot online program or through their conventional certification procedure.Once certified, restaurant menus can incorporate MSC's eco-label, informing the public that they serve seafood from sustainable sources. With the world "going green", it is felt that certification will drive more customers to restaurants that support environmentally-friendly fishing.