Sunday, October 25, 2009

MSC Looking for a new Independent Adjudicator

I guess the term for the current MSC Independent Adjudicator, Michael Lodge, is up and the call is out to find a new laywer:

The job add states:
"Core to the voluntary certification process for fisheries is an objections procedure that provides for an orderly, structured process by which specific concerns about certification decisions reached by independent certifiers can be formally lodged, reviewed and resolved, fairly and transparently. Within this procedure, the Independent Adjudicator is responsible for the review of contested certifier decisions that is independent of the certifier, objector and the MSC, to ensure that such decisions on certification meet the MSC standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries."

There are two "independents" in the above text - the independent certifiers and independent adjudicator.

How independent are the independents in the MSC process?

The first there are the "independent" consulting companies (Moody and Tavel are two) certified by MSC. Their motives are profit. If an industry asks for certification then the consulting company first does a confidential pre-assessment. If the fishery passes the pre-assessment it then goes into full certification. We never hear about any failures at the pre-assessment stage because it is confidential. If the fishery goes into full assessment, while there may be conditions attached, there is never failure to achieve certification (as far as Fishyfellow knows).

If an objection is lodged to the certification, then it is the job of the "Independent" Adjudicator, on salary to MSC, to decide if the objections are valid. Since the objections are likely to be on technical issues related to the interpretation of the available scientific data, it is a tough job for a lawyer. And if he/she is salaried by MSC, how independent can he/she really be?

Since the above views may be ill-informed, it would be good to hear the counter-argument in support of the claim of independence in the MSC certification and objection process. 

Feel free to comment.

1 comment:

  1. As far as I am aware, NGOs that have participated in the objection process share your opinion. The MSC and their certifiers make a good show of obtaining stakeholder input and allowing for objections without any intention of listening to any of the opinions expressed.