The news for eco-conscious seafood lovers isn’t getting better … or clearer.
According to ScienceDaily and Mother Jones’ Blue Marble blog, a new op-ed piece in the journal Nature slams the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – an international non-profit that certifies sustainable seafood – for failing to accurately assess the health of fisheries, and favoring big fisheries over sound science. The authors are scientists from the likes of University of British Columbia and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They cite examples of MSC-certified fish whose numbers are in decline or whose populations they say we don’t know enough about to even decide if they’re sustainable.
MSC has posted a reply on their website stating that MSC standards conform to guidelines set by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and “represent a broad scientific consensus, agreed by over 200 marine biologists, scientists, environmentalists and other stakeholders from around the world.” They do not directly dispute their critics’ statistics on fish stocks but provide countering numbers for catch sizes, and suggest that low stocks may be due to natural variation.
MSC currently certifies approximately 7% of seafood globally. The blue check-mark label can be found on seafood in major grocery chains like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods.
Of course, this news doesn’t directly affect any New England fisheries because none of them are certified by MSC. Not even that hook-and-line caught haddock I so carefully picked out for dinner last night.