Photo: Salmon certification seems fishy

Aquatic biologist Jeffery Young.
(Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson)

By Jeffery Young, Aquatic Biologist

Just last week my colleague, Dr. Scott Wallace, raised concerns about the possibility that the UK-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) would certify one of Canada's worst fisheries, the Atlantic swordfish longline fishery that catches too many endangered loggerhead turtles. Today, the MSC announced the certification of all of Canadian sockeye salmon fisheries. Some of these fisheries are (nearly) sustainable, or are at least moving in the right direction. But certifying the Fraser River sockeye fishery, which is now the subject of a federal judicial inquiry after further declines in endangered runs and three of the lowest returns on record, makes no sense.

As Scott put it, a certification of this kind threatens the credibility and value of the MSC logo and risks confusing consumers. My assumption is that people that make the effort to choose an eco-labelled sockeye are expecting that it isn't coming from a fishery that continues to harm endangered salmon, or might even be an endangered sockeye itself!

The David Suzuki Foundation, along with other conservation organizations, will be preparing a formal objection to this certification. Our aim will be to have certification of the Fraser sockeye fishery at least delayed until the results of the judicial inquiry are being implemented. The other three sockeye fisheries (Barkley Sound, Skeena and Nass) also require much stronger commitments to fisheries improvements from the federal government before they should receive the MSC's blue logo.

Read the full story (Sustainable sockeye 'eco-fraud', Globe and Mail), including comment from Jeffery Young, here.

January 20, 2010

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1 Comment

Jan 22, 2010
3:19 PM

Very fishy indeed… the MSC is becoming extremely worrying and thousands of hours of environmentalists time are being eaten up in submitting on and objecting to “sustainability” certifications that have no basis in reality and seem to be a foregone conclusion from the moment a fishery enters the assessment process. Here in NZ there are three bottom trawl fisheries currently being assessed and another dredge fishery for scallops that has already partially collapsed in 1/3 of its area with no signs of recovery even after years of attempted re-seeding the scallop beds. That’s what happens when you destroy the habitat to get the fish — and it is NOT sustainable! It makes me very angry as a NZ taxpayer that my taxes are going into subsidies to the fishing industry to help them gain MSC certification, when that money should be going into proper stock assessments and shifting away from destructive fishing techniques like dredging and trawling and developing sustainable fisheries. And, to add insult to injury, anyone wishing to object to one of these shocking and shonky certifications has to pay a hefty fee for the privilege. Eco-fraud sums it up perfectly.

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