Friday, June 25, 2010

Controversy over MSC krill certification - science flatters fishery?

A well-researched article on the MSC krill certification by David Jolly published June 23 in The New York Times quotes Sidney Holt as saying the problem with the MSC process was that the outsourcing of fishery assessments to commercial contractors paid by the fisheries created a conflict of interest, because the contractors have an incentive to present the science in a way most flattering to a fishery. “It’s like having the prosecutor in court appoint the judge” he is quoted as saying.

Although long retired and now considered by some to have extreme views on conservation, Sidney Holt, along with fellow British colleague Ray Beverton and Canadian scientist Bill Ricker, laid the foundation for quantitative science for sustainable fisheries management through their research in the 1950s and 1960s.

Holt hits the nail on the head. In fact his prosecutor-judge analogy can be taken one step higher in the chain. MSC appoints and pays the salaries of the lawyers who act as the independent adjudicators of formal objections to its sustainability determinations. No objection has thus far been judged by the independent adjudicators to be of sufficient merit to result in overturning an MSC sustainability determination. Given that pre-assessments are confidential, MSC is batting 1000.

1 comment:

  1. I think that the notion that Sidney Holt may have extreme views on conservation stems from the biased opinions of free-lance scientific advisors hired by Japan to defend its commercial whaling activity. Holt is well known for his rational conservation-minded approach at IWC to the management of whale populations. Japan is not noted for its conservation activities as anybody that has watched "The Cove" now knows.