Is MSC misleading consumers by 'innocuously' eco-certifying aquaculture products? Does anybody care? 

Written By:  Newsdesk
Category:  Editorial
Date Posted:  10/14/2011 9:45 AM
  Is MSC misleading consumers by 'innocuously' eco-certifying aquaculture products? Does anybody care?

  The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) highlights today (October 14th) in true marketing fashion that “mussels are an excellent choice at this time of year because of their tremendous quality.” Of course... I could'nt agree more: I love mussels, farmed & wild. The SSMG - which supplies most major UK supermarkets & wholesalers with mussels & oysters - ends its statement - seemingly innocuously: “Farms are now currently undergoing the full MSC assessment process with completion due in early 2012”. Wait a minute: MSC-certified farmed mussels?! Didn't the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) explicitly renounce (in 2006 & twice in 2008) the scope of certifying aquaculture? This decision was instrumental in the WWF-led Aquaculture Dialogues deciding to set-up the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC; both organisations have in common of being partly WWF brainchildren), still not fully operational. Stakeholders and the public were thus told repeatedly that the MSC had 'drawn the line'. Good! Clarity is always welcomed, particularly for eco-labels. But many announcements have since murkied the waters of MSC's eco-certifying practice. It is difficult enough to venture in 'enhanced' fisheries with strong aquaculture components (eg. some Alaska 'wild' salmon fisheries) without certifying clearly aquacultured shellfish (always located in 'wild' seas). As I wrote yesterday following the announcement that China's n°1 scallops aquaculture company was entering MSC assessment: where does this leave the ASC? More importantly: where does this leave consumers? These questions are relevant as the MSC successfully persuaded some of the world's largest seafood retailers to make its eco-label a compulsory condition in the near-future ('be MSC-certified or else' suppliers are told). Why is the MSC seemingly shying away from the term 'aquaculture' in all but practice?

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