For 21 years now, the Marine Stewardship Council (MCS) has been certifying sustainable fisheries to enable citizens to decide for environmentally friendly fishing products. However, many conservation organisations and scientists criticise the MSC’s increasingly lax certification practice, which has already led to the certification of fisheries that are apparently using destructive fishing methods.

Under the leadership of the shark protection organisation SHARKPROJECT, 66 environmental organisations (including the Turtle Foundation and its Cape Verdean partner Fundação Tartaruga), leading marine scientists, and individuals have recently sent an open letter to the Chairman of the MSC, Dr. Werner Keine. The letter demands for far-reaching and immediate improvements of the certification standard with the aim of rehabilitating the sustainability claim of the MSC certificate.

In their letter, the signatories criticise the MSC for increasingly awarding the MSC seal to unsustainable fisheries, despite the fact that these capture thousands of endangered and threatened species and cause irreversible damage to marine habitats. According to the letter, this certification practice casts doubt on the credibility of the MSC and misleads citizens who place their trust in this sustainability certificate when buying fish and seafood.

The signatories see their letter as an opportunity for the MSC to receive constructive feedback from a variety of well-known and respected organizations around the world to improve the MSC standard and confirm its credibility as a leading sustainability certificate. The letter also demands that the MSC

  • does not authorise certification of fisheries that target their nets on marine mammal or other endangered, threatened or protected species
  • a strict “shark fins remain attached to the animal” rule for all fisheries that come into contact with sharks
  • rejects the certification of bottom trawl fisheries in vulnerable marine ecosystems.

The Alliance calls on the MSC to engage in dialogue in order to implement the demands quickly.

Here you can download the open letter (PDF, ca. 340 kb):

The appendix to the letter describes in detail the critical weaknesses of the MSC certification system, which are responsible that fisheries are certified as sustainable despite significant reservations. Download the appendix here (PDF, ca. 670 kb):