WWF statement on MSC’s lack of reform | WWF
WWF statement on MSC’s lack of reform

Posted on 01 April 2020

WWF will continue to both advocate for improvement by the MSC and steer retailers and consumers away from certain MSC-certified fisheries that we believe should not have been certified as sustainable and well managed.
GLAND, Switzerland – In January 2018, WWF welcomed the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) commitment to improve its certification and assurance process, including using public consultations, and looked forward to rapid and clear progress. However, with the release of the MSC’s Fisheries Certification Process v 2.2 on 25 March 2020, WWF is very concerned by the lack of overall improvements, and the continued weakness of the certification and assurance process.
 
“Rather than land a significant reform agenda, this is a case of the ‘one that got away’,” said John Tanzer, Oceans Practice Leader, WWF International. 
 
In March 2018, WWF outlined where reforms in the certification process are most urgently needed to maintain the credibility and effectiveness of the MSC program. These included full impartiality of the assessment bodies, a science-based dispute settlement process, being explicit about the precautionary principle, explicit consideration of social issues and ensuring conditions are met in a timely fashion. Despite these topics being specifically targeted in the assurance review process, progress has been poor or limited on all of them.
 
“Consumers and retailers need to be able to trust the MSC-certified label. Unfortunately, we are forced to question the appropriateness of that label for a growing list of fisheries,” said Tanzer. “We have spent two years engaged in a process to strengthen safeguards and help the MSC reliably and consistently deliver on its promise of sustainable seafood. We are disappointed in the end result.”
 
WWF maintains the view that certification for seafood can help drive improvements in fishing and fishery management. WWF will continue to both advocate for improvement by the MSC and steer retailers and consumers away from certain MSC-certified fisheries that we believe should not have been certified as sustainable and well managed, such as the Joint demersal North Sea trawl fisheries, the Northeastern Tropical Pacific tuna fishery, the Echebastar Indian Ocean skipjack tuna fishery and the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery.
 
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Note to editors:
WWF has filed objections against 17 proposed certifications, including the Joint demersal North Sea trawl fisheries, the Northeastern Tropical Pacific tuna fishery, the Echebastar Indian Ocean skipjack tuna fishery and the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery. The objection against the proposed certification of Atlantic bluefin tuna is ongoing. Objections have been largely ineffective in preventing premature certification of fisheries with complex sustainability issues.