WWF statement – March 2018

MSC response to WWF statement of March 2018

In its recent statement, WWF recognises that: "…the MSC has provided a global framework for encouraging fisheries to improve and has significantly contributed to ocean conservation." This underlines the MSC’s long track record of catalysing measurable change on the water, with the support of the retailers, suppliers, processors and fishers who have supported the MSC program for the past 20 years.

The statement also repeats WWF calls for specific changes within the MSC program that WWF sent to the MSC in January 2018.

 

Developments in the MSC program

In line with best practice and guidelines from the UN FAO, the MSC is required to review its Standard periodically to ensure that it remains relevant and effective, reflecting current science and globally accepted best practice in fisheries management. Previous reviews have led, for example, to additional requirements being introduced for low-trophic level species and vulnerable marine ecosystems. Research to inform the next Fisheries Standard Review will be conducted this year providing evidence on program performance. A formal process to consider revisions to the MSC Fisheries Standard will begin in 2019.

There is a need for rigour and diligence in considering changes to the MSC Standard and processes. Such changes – as are being considered under the Fisheries Standard Review and the Assurance Review – must be evaluated and widely consulted to ensure they are effective and will improve the MSC’s ability to catalyse positive change through the leadership of our partners.

MSC is committed to an inclusive, multi-stakeholder engagement approach in all program development processes. When WWF helped create the MSC in the late 1990s, it built in the principle of broad stakeholder consultation. No one voice would be able to dominate. This principle is evident today in the MSC’s Stakeholder Advisory Council, a forum in which MSC brings together representatives from industry, retail, government, academic, and NGO stakeholder communities, ensuring their differing perspectives are heard by the Board of Trustees. WWF is one of the NGOs represented on the Stakeholder Advisory Council.

WWF therefore remains an important voice in the latest round of consultations, but it is not the only voice. While the MSC can commit to examining particular areas of the MSC program, it cannot commit to taking specific actions before all stakeholders have had the opportunity to engage. MSC is committed to hearing the views of all stakeholder groups through the same rigorous processes that have helped to make the MSC program the world-leading Standard that WWF continues to recognise as best-in-class.

 

Independent and impartial


WWF co-founded the MSC as an independent and impartial organisation creating a program that uses an objective, scientific approach to fisheries assessment. Independent expert auditors carry out assessments against the MSC Standard.

MSC values WWF’s engagement in fishery assessments. Stakeholder engagement in the assessment process ensures that all relevant information is taken into account and maintains the credibility of the eventual determination. Inevitably stakeholders do not always agree. The auditors, through the assessment process, must consider wide-ranging evidence provided by fisheries, governments and other NGOs. This then informs their final decision, which is made publicly available on a dedicated website, along with all stakeholder submissions. Disagreements between stakeholders about the eventual outcome can happen but it does not mean that the decision, which is based on all available evidence, is wrong. This independent and impartial approach reflects the fundamental principles of the MSC program.

Rupert Howes, MSC CEO added: "MSC and WWF work with many of the same partners. MSC remains committed to positive, solutions-orientated collaboration with all stakeholders who share our vision of healthy and productive oceans. Given the pressures and demands on our ocean resources, it is essential that NGOs, governments, retailers and industry work together to accelerate the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. This will require a pragmatic approach, building consensus on how to best achieve our mutual aims." 
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