"The MSC's new eco-label creates real market incentives for healthy fisheries," said Scott Burns, Director of WWF's Endangered Seas Campaign. "For the first time, fishers can be recognized for managing their fisheries in a responsible way, and consumers will be able to purchase seafood that they know comes from sustainable sources. This can only be good news for consumers, and for marine conservation."
According to WWF, governments have largely failed to halt overfishing. The United Nations estimates that at least 60% of the world's most valuable fisheries are either overfished or fished to the limit. As a result, WWF and Unilever, a leading consumer goods company and major buyer of frozen fish, formed a unique partnership and created the now independent, non-profit MSC.
Through a series of international consultations with key stakeholders - from fishers and scientists to law-makers and retailers, the MSC developed the first-ever global standards for well-managed fisheries. Fisheries operators interested in carrying the new MSC label on their seafood products can volunteer to be independently assessed against these standards.
"The MSC initiative gives me great hope that we can create a future in which the threats to our fisheries and oceans are addressed and reversed," said WWF International Board Member, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, who participated in today's launch of the new eco-label. "Without such an initiative, we would all be poorer. Fishers will lose the fish they rely on for food and employment, and our children will lose the legacy of healthy oceans that is their right."
WWF says the first fisheries to meet the MSC's criteria for sustainable fishing - Western Australian rock lobster and the UK's Thames herring - deserve credit for participating in this unprecedented global certification programme for fisheries.
"The success of these first certified seafood products in the marketplace will ultimately challenge other fishers and retailers to improve their management and to be more responsive to the environmentally-conscience consumer," added Mr Burns. "Better fisheries practices are critical if we want to preserve our marine environment, and its valuable resources, for future generations."
For further information:
At WWF International: Shaleen Russell; tel +41 22 364 9553, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Leigh Ann Hurt; tel +41 22 364 9028, mobile +41 79 477 3560, email: email@example.com.
At the MSC: Priti Patel or Alex Bigg, tel +44 20 7905 2532 or +44 20 7905 2459.