Photo: An ecolabel on a fishery that catches endangered sharks and turtles. Really?!

David Suzuki and Hector the blue shark (Photo Credit: Friends of Hector)

By Dr. Scott Wallace, Sustainable Fisheries Analyst

Canada's Atlantic longline fishery for swordfish is about to receive an ecolabel from the Marine Stewardship Council. This fishery has been shown to kill about 35,000 blue sharks and catches over 1,000 endangered loggerhead turtles every year. Other species such as Bluefin tuna, porbeagle shark, shortfin mako, and leatherback turtles are also caught as bycatch. The public draft report has concluded that this fishery is worthy of the MSC ecolabel. This will be the first surface longline fleet in the world to receive MSC certification.

Globally, this gear type is associated with excessive mortality of sea turtles, sea birds and sharks. Given that this Canadian fishery has exceptionally high bycatch of these species and does not have even the minimal international best practices in place, this precedent-setting certification is deeply concerning. Express your concern by helping Hector the blue shark send a letter to the Marine Stewardship Council.

April 7, 2011

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Apr 07, 2011
10:57 AM

Letter Sent. Thank you for keeping us informed!

This sort of green-washing and false labeling is one of my biggest pet peeves. I work in print and design and it’s a constant uphill battle of wading through the eco labels to discern the really sustainable and the ‘psuedo’ sustainable.

It’s so sad that corporations jump on these labels as a way to make more money. The repercussions are even worse: I’ve heard people say that they don’t believing ANY labels. They can’t wrap their head around the lies and the truths- and nor should they have to. Is there some sort of campaign out there that is really trying to standardize these? Thanks again.

Apr 07, 2011
11:22 AM

All I can say is wow!! What type of fishery wouldn’t get a certification? Maybe I’ll just start eating what I and friends catch… More green wash marketing to try and dupe the public. I am so sick of what is ‘allowed to be marketed’.

This isn’t acceptable.

Apr 07, 2011
2:06 PM

I’ve been avoiding all larger fish (higher on the food chain) since reading Bottom Feeders a few years ago. I recently gave in to a longing for salmon by trusting a MSC label. The meal was such a treat and we honoured every bite. Now, reading this article I feel betrayed and will not be able to trust an MSC label again.

Apr 07, 2011
4:42 PM

Thanks for keeping us informed! There as to be a way of effecting change to better our future. Maybe be bringing out into the open these injustices by rewarding them will present the truth of their atrocities.

Apr 07, 2011
5:02 PM

I’m quite disappointed that this article provides such little hard fact; yet it encourages people to jump on the band wagon and send in their comments through Hector the blue shark as ‘informed consumers’. Could you not at least have provided a link to the draft report so that we could have enhanced our awareness of the process? PS- Kudos to your organization for your monitoring of these events and your detailed submission!

Mar 03, 2012
9:07 PM

This is totally ridiculous.Giving certification to longlining is just going to invalidate the entire ecolabel idea.

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