Monday, February 13, 2012

Former MSC head spills the fish guts on the Alaskan salmon pullout

A former head of the MSC has commented publicly on the pullout from the certification scheme by the Alaskan salmon industry.  He questions whether it is a kamikaze move or a considered action.   He notes that nobody expected a stalwart of the MSC certification scheme to abandon ship at the height of the eco-certification bubble.  

But maybe that bubble is about to burst?   Has the asymptote been reached?  Have the cumulative cases of questionable MSC certifications finally reached the point where the brand is beginning to lose value? 

Brendan May gives us a rare peak into the dilemma that MSC faces on a daily basis trying to play environmental groups off against commercial enterprises.  He recounts the hours spent by MSC figuring out how to kick a fishery out of the programme so Greenpeace and others might stop thinking they were a front for the industry or a satanic incarnation.  But very few fisheries have been kicked out.

The MSC certification of the Canadian longline swordfish fishery a few days ago further weakens the MSC brand.  Despite the objection of environmental groups, MSC has certified a fishery in which, it is claimed, two sharks die are cuaght for every swordfish caught (some percentage of which survive on release) and which causes 200- 500 endangered sea turtles to breathe their last every year.

As environmental groups have been quick to point out, not many people would be happy to sit down to a meal of MSC certified longline swordfish knowing that it comes with a side dish of endangered turtle and shark.