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Research Report

WHAT’S THE CATCH?: Lessons from and prospects for Marine Stewardship Council certification in developing countries

Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2015
Pages: 112
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 9-17)

    Fish stocks are of enormous importance to the global economy and many national economies, as well as to livelihoods and food security, particularly in developing countries. Fisheries contribute approximately US$274 billion to global gross domestic product (GDP) per annum, although they are currently an underperforming asset in market terms.¹ The World Bank estimates that if fisheries were managed optimally they could deliver an additional US$50 billion each year (World Bank, 2005).

    In 2012, some 58.3 million people were engaged in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture (FAO , 2014a). The actual figure is likely to be higher since...

  2. (pp. 18-33)

    This section gives an overview of the global production of wild capture fisheries, the trade in fish and fisheries products, and the consumption of fish. It provides an important summary of supply and demand patterns and trends in seafood: the top producing nations, the top wild capture species, and the main importing and exporting countries and regions. The overview, drawn from global datasets, is compared with the production of fisheries engaged in the MSC programme and the markets in which certified products are available. This indicates what potential there is to include fisheries and their products in the MSC programme...

  3. (pp. 34-43)

    The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent, not-for profit organisation with offices in Europe (London, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm and Warsaw) the USA, Australia, Asia (Singapore and Tokyo) and South Africa (MSC, 2014l). It was established in 1997 by Unilever and WWF, who recognised the need for a global standard and certification scheme for sustainable wild capture fisheries. The collapse of Grand Banks cod stocks in the early 1990s has been cited as a key trigger in the scheme’s development (Agnew et al., 2013). It gained independence from Unilever and WWF in 1999 (MRAG, 2009). MSC’s mission is “to use our...

  4. (pp. 44-49)

    It is reported that the greatest fishery improvements occur prior to certification, when fisheries have conducted a pre-assessment to determine how suited the fishery is to meeting the MSC standard (Martin et al., 2012, Agnew et al., 2013) (see Figure 9). Therefore, it follows that significant improvements are achieved during a number of tasks and activities under a formalised Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). This section provides an introduction and background to FIPs and the involvement of the MSC programme with them.

    There is no single and universally agreed definition of a fishery improvement project (FIP) and historically (since 1989) there...

  5. (pp. 50-65)

    There are a range of different factors and actors that have had – or have the potential to – drive developing world fisheries to become MSC-certified. Some are ‘hard’ incentives, such as economic incentives arising from price premiums, increased sales, and improved trading relationships; while others are ‘soft’ incentives, such as enhanced profiles and reputations that can lead to increased support from government or other parties. A number of different actors play a role in directly or indirectly encouraging developing world fisheries to achieve MSC certification – governments, industry (traders, processors and retailers), NGOs and scientists.

    Market access – both...

  6. (pp. 66-87)

    There is a lack of rigorous impact assessment studies of the environmental, social and economic impacts of MSC certification. Although the MSC scheme has been running for 14 years, many fisheries have become certified more recently, and longer periods are likely needed for impacts to emerge – particularly environmental impacts.

    Attributing impacts and changes in a fishery to MSC certification is also challenging. Changes to production systems and fisheries management may take place before certification has been achieved – and not necessarily because fisheries are planning to achieve certification (Standing, 2009). Changes may occur as a result of external factors,...

  7. (pp. 88-91)

    This study has provided a greater understanding of some of the potential drivers, barriers and impacts of MSC certification for small-scale fisheries in the developing world.

    Small-scale fisheries typically face unique challenges in obtaining MSC certification. Their small size means they are usually disadvantaged in comparison to developed world fisheries for a number of reasons. This includes: an inability to monitor and survey and obtain technical information – which can mean they are data deficient (for instance on stock sizes); they are typically open access, thus making certification impossible as fishers do not have the necessary exclusive rights; they face...