The MSC’s response to On the Hook campaign announcement — Marine Stewardship Council
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The MSC’s response to On the Hook campaign announcement

The MSC is disappointed to see these misleading and false claims and strongly rejects the accusation of duping consumers.

The MSC is widely recognised as the world’s most robust and credible programme for sustainable fishing. Consumers can be confident that our ‘blue tick’ label indicates a fish has been responsibly caught and is fully traceable to a sustainable source. Our strict Chain of Custody requirements ensures that certified and non-certified catch are clearly segregated.

The MSC adheres to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) guidelines for credible marine ecolabelling and certification programmes. As the only wild-seafood certification programme to be a fully qualified member of ISEAL, the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance, it also complies with their highly-regarded codes for standard setting. In March this year, the MSC also became the first global sustainable seafood certification programme to achieve recognition from the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), confirming it meets international requirements for credibility and rigour.

The PNA tuna fishery achieved MSC certification following an in-depth assessment by an independent certification body. The MSC Fisheries Standard is founded on three principles:

  • healthy fish stocks,
  • sustainable impact on the wider marine environment, and
  • effective fishery management.

The PNA is now undergoing full reassessment to the MSC Fisheries Standard, as is required every five years for all fisheries in the MSC program.

Assessments to the MSC Standard are conducted by independent third parties, not the MSC itself. For the MSC to intervene in an ongoing assessment of a fishery would contravene international best practice set by the UN FAO and ISEAL, and our impartiality as a standard setter. An assessment to the MSC standard includes opportunities for stakeholder comments, peer review and an objections process, overseen by an independent adjudicator. We encourage any stakeholders concerned about an assessment to participate and engage with the transparent and open process.

In conformance with international best practice for a credible standard setter, any modifications to our standard or processes are made only after due consideration of requirements for consultation, decision making and implementation.

Some stakeholders have raised concerns relating to the use of multiple fishing techniques to catch certified and non-certified products from the same boat. These concerns were discussed and listened to during a workshop organised by the MSC in June. The MSC has since developed three potential options to address these concerns. These will go to formal consultation with stakeholders from 1 September. Following this consultation, feedback and options will be considered by our stakeholder and technical advisory groups, and a recommendation put to the MSC Board in January 2018. We hope that all those involved on the On the Hook campaign will participate in this process.

Dr. David Agnew, MSC Science and Standards Director said: "Third-party scrutiny, independence, impartiality and stakeholder consultation are central to the MSC’s values and commitment to continually improve and maintain world-leading standards. The MSC works tirelessly to understand and unite a complex set of often differing views among our stakeholders – fisheries, retailers, brands, NGOs, scientists, and of course consumers – and galvanise them all in pursuit of a shared goal that all can benefit from, regardless of their differences.

"As a global not-for-profit, we remain committed to our vision for the world’s oceans to be teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations. Shoppers and diners can continue to feel confident when buying seafood bearing our label that it has been caught responsibly and is fully traceable to a sustainable source".

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