Monday, May 16, 2011

Opting out of MSC mackerel recertification because of cost and threats

A group of mackerel handline fishermen from Mevagissey Cornwall (South West Hand Line Fishermen's Association) have decided to opt out of MSC recertification according to a news item from  

The primary reason given is the “staggering” cost of £12,000 plus VAT that must be paid to the consulting company Moody Marine Ltd for recertification.  Fishermen also cited MSC’s threat to withdraw accreditation of all north east Atlantic mackerel fisheries in early 2012 unless Iceland and Faroes stop overfishing the mackerel stock.

If MSC follows up with this threat, it seems highly unlikely that the Mevagissey handline fishermen would be refunded their recertification fee by Moody.

Fishermen are considering alternative cheaper ways of promoting their catch as sustainable, such as the grass routes “Responsible Fishing Scheme”.

The large fees charged by consulting companies like Moody for secret pre-assessments (up to $35K?), full assessments (up to $150K?), annual audits and recertifications (up to $20K?) reflect the value placed on the MSC brand by large players in the fishing industry.

It is not clear that smaller low tech fisheries such as the mackerel handline fishery can continue to afford the high prices charged for MSC certification, even though these smaller fisheries are often the most sustainable with least bycatch and impact on the ecosystem.

Alternative grassroots schemes like the Responsible Fishing Scheme or schemes provided by concerned environmental groups such as Seafood Watch and SeaChoice may prove to be increasingly attractive.