Thursday, November 17, 2011

MSC Sustainable Fisheries Certification Works says new report

In October 2010 MSC announced that it had selected, from the various contract bidders, MRAG Ltd to undertake the first detailed analysis of the environmental impacts that have resulted from the first ten years of MSC’s fishery certification program.  MRAG was supported in this contract by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd and Meridian Prime Ltd. 

These consulting companies have recently submitted their joint report.  You get what you pay for so no surprise that the report concluded that MSC eco-certification really works. 

The media release states that this is an “independent” study.  Not so.  MRAG Ltd. is a consulting company heavily engaged in the MSC certification game.  Further, one of the report authors, David Agnew, is a long time MSC insider as Chair of the Technical Advisory Board and is now on staff as MSC Director of Standards.

The study focuses on improvements in eight outcome performance indicators: stock status; population reference points; stock recovery; retained species; bycatch species; endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species; habitats and environments.

Improvements were purported to have been evidenced over the period commencing with the secret MSC pre-assessment, through assessment and into the certification.

The conclusion from the study was that MSC works.

Erik Stokstad, writing in Science is not convinced. Scoring is subjective and there is no control study (i.e. how did fisheries not under MSC certification progress over the same period?).

While MSC continues to certify fisheries that are data-deficient, clearly not sustainable or which cause unacceptable collateral damage on other components of the ecosystem we, the resource owners, should reserve judgement regarding the efficacy of the program. 

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