Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Verdict out - Antarctic krill fishery is sustainable because MSC says so

Yesterday (25 May 2010) MSC released the legally sounding "Supplemental Decision of the Independent Adjudicator on Remand in the Matter of an Objection to the Final Report and Determination of the Proposed Certification of the Aker Biomarine Antarctic Krill Fishery under the MSC Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing".

The "Decision" is by the Independent Adjudicator (on staff to MSC) - lawyer Eldon V.C. Greenberg.

In his 4 page ruling he reaches the conclusion "In sum, after consideration of Moody's Response to Additional Remand, I conclude that the response is "adequate to meet the matters raised in the remand" within the meaning of Section 4.9.4(a) of the Objections Procedure, and I confirm the determination of the certification body with respect to PIs 1.2.2 and 2.5.3. I conclude that Moody has cured the procedural defect identified in my remand of May 5, 2010 and provided a reasonable explanation for its decision not to alter the scoring of the PIs in question in light of Watters 2009."

See post on this blog on May 7 for background

So Moody wins another one and MSC can check an additional sustainable fishery to its growing world-wide list.

But what do conservation bodies think?  The influential Pew Environmental Group does not like it one little bit.  The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a US-based non-governmental organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improving public policy, informing the public and stimulating civic life.

PR Newswire reports that "The Pew Environment Group today criticized the decision by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to certify Antarctic krill. The certification gives the false impression that the entire fishery for Antarctic krill is sustainable when in reality it is not."

Gerald Leape, director of Pew's Antarctic Krill Conservation Project (AKCP) points out the main grounds for objecting to the certification of the Aker krill fishery as sustainable:
  • MSC's standards allow for the certification of a single operator in a fishery. In general, this runs contrary to its mission of ocean protection. If a few ships are acting responsibly but the vast majority are not, the target population could still be at risk of being overfished.  
  • Climate change impacts to species are not considered by MSC methodology. As krill have been proven to be susceptible to climate change, the impact of warming temperatures on the population must be considered, if fishing is to be sustainable.
  • Numerous uncertainties are associated with the determinants and drivers of krill population size. Though extensively studied, scientists are still learning what affects krill population size. Without this knowledge, it is difficult to set appropriate catch limits.

PR Newswire reports Leape saying: "Unfortunately, perception is reality...The MSC's label falsely advertises the message that all krill are sustainably caught and that consuming krill-based omega 3 supplements or purchasing farmed salmon raised on krill meal is okay. Nothing could be further from the truth."



  1. Well, hats off to ASOC and Pew for at least trying. No objections to MSC certification have yet been upheld by the "Independent Adjudicators" so I guess this "judgement" is not suprising. It is hard to think of the Antactic krill fishery as "sustainable" without considering the role of krill in the ecosystem. There is no "surplus" production for a key forage species like this. Keep up the informative blogging Fishyfellow!

  2. Read "License to Krill"!