Case Study 1: Toothfish – An MSC‐Certified Fishery

  • Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
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IntroductionSubstantive issuesThe objectionChain of custodyCurrent status of certificationConclusions References

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... Its mandate includes management of toothfish stocks (Dissostichus spp.). As an early participant in the MSC Fisheries program, significant efforts to eliminate IUU from the member states' fisheries were made to support the application for certification (Baird, 2005;Agnew, 2008).Vessel inspection results are shared with other member states to facilitate cooperation in enforcement actions. Catch Documentation Schemes (CDS), barcodes and satellite technology are used to capture tamper-proof information that is accessible by port states to monitor landings and ensure only legally caught toothfish can be landed and sold into legal supply chains. ...
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Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities threaten marine biodiversity, livelihoods, food security, and human rights across the globe. Often occurring in waters that are difficult to control, and across multi-sector, transboundary, value chains that are hard to regulate, such a complex and heterogeneous problem requires multiple strategies beyond sovereign nations’ legislation alone. Here we explore the mechanisms through which eco-certification, by fostering private-public and cross-jurisdiction cooperation, can incentivize fishers to adopt best practices in harvesting and ecosystem impacts mitigation, increase the transparency of fishery operations and accountability to suppliers. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sets globally recognized standards for fisheries sustainability and supply chain assurance, based on the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Building on the MSC experience of over 400 certified fisheries representing 18% of global wild marine catch, we analyze examples and available information on the changes achieved by the seafood industry through engagement with the program, with particular focus on the elimination or reduction of illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing practices. We propose here that different, interlinked mechanisms come into play: the Standards provide best practice guidelines for improved catch documentation, monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS), and strengthening regulations. These lead to change either through (1) direct improvements required for fisheries to achieve the certificate (e.g., in Fishery Improvement Projects) or, (2) once certified, to maintain the certificate, or (3) as an emergent effect of the engagement process itself, requiring stakeholder cooperation and transparent information-sharing leading to a greater culture of compliance, and (4), as an effect of strengthening chain of custody documentation and standardizing it across jurisdictions. We also discuss limitations, such as the capacity for fisheries in low-income regions to embark on the management and social reform required, and evolving challenges in seafood sustainability, such as ethical concerns for forced and child labor and shark finning. While not the single silver bullet against such a complex problem, we argue that certification is an important tool in addressing IUU fishing.
... Sin embargo, beneficios de mercado después de la certificación han sido reportados en las pesquerías de abadejo y salmón en Alaska y en la pesquería de merluza en Nueva Zelanda (Aalders et al., 2003; Gilmore, 2008). La obtención de la certificación MSC se ha asociado con la generación de prestigio internacional (I2) tanto para las pesquerías como para las instituciones de manejo (Chaffee, 2003; Rogers et al., 2003; Agnew, 2008; Pérez-Ramírez et al., 2012b). En países en desarrollo, se ha reportado que el prestigio de la certificación puede conferirle a la industria una posición negociadora más fuerte ante los gobiernos y partes interesadas, como ONGs e incluso otras administraciones con las que establecen competencia por los recursos (Ponte, 2008; Pérez-Ramírez et al., 2012c). ...
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The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification and eco-labelling program is a market-based incentive program recognizing sustainable fisheries. It is currently the most widespread worldwide with 132 certified fisheries, including seven in developing countries (Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, and Vietnam). This study presents three different approaches: global, regional (developing countries, focus: Latin America), and local (Baja California Sur, Mexico). It offers future certification scenarios, considering the logistic growth model and the Bass diffusion model. From a regional perspective, it discusses the future of MSC certification in developing countries and sets out the challenges and opportunities for fish producers. Finally, a pilot survey measured consumer perception to establish whether consumers would be willing to buy MSC products in Mexico. The logistic model shows that regardless of the potentially certifiable fish biomass (K) it reaches 90% of its value in a short time (r = 0.304). According to the Bass diffusion model, the main factors influencing certification of additional fisheries are market demand and certification costs. It is proposed that market/political/ social reality and lack of sufficient scientific knowledge will prove the key considerations for a more intense participation of fisheries in Latin America in the certification initiative. Because most fisheries in developing countries cannot meet the MSC standards or afford the certification process costs, it is suggested that there is a need for additional third-party assessing organizations. The survey results indicated that the MSC eco-label is unknown among consumers, but 88% of the sample (n = 317) was sympathetic to the idea of buying eco-labelled fish. Keywords: MSC fisheries certification, seafood eco-labeling, non-economic benefits, developing countries
Smart Mixes for Transboundary Environmental Harm - edited by Judith van Erp March 2019
The management of fisheries at the international level is no longer the exclusive preserve of states and international organizations. The proliferation of private certification initiatives – the reach of which defies territorial boundaries – has heralded an era of transnational fisheries governance. Whereas the interactions between private standards and national regulation have attracted scholarly attention, the function of international law in the context of transnational fisheries governance is largely unexplored. This article maps the interactions between international fisheries law and the most prominent among private certification standards, namely the Marine Stewardship Council Fisheries Standard and Guidance (MSC FSG). The article proposes a methodology to assess such interactions at the stage of norm development and argues that the interactions between the two regimes are multidirectional and complex. International law serves as a model for private standard setting and as a yardstick for private decision making. Conversely, the MSC FSG has acted as a model for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Ecolabelling Guidelines. Moreover, the MSC FSG may constitute a benchmark for resolutions adopted by regional fisheries management organizations. The MSC FSG, in incorporating international fisheries law, affirms the latter’s resilience as a global point of reference for the management of fisheries globally. Yet, at the same time, by prompting states to comply with their international obligations in order to secure market access for their fishing industry, the MSC FSG may be exposing the inability of international law to generate compliance autonomously.
Two global certification and ecolabelling systems – the generic global dolphin-safe ecolabel and the global Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel – are assessed for their present and potential contributions to improving biodiversity conservation in marine capture fisheries. The dolphin-safe ecolabel appears to have played a minor role in a reduction of dolphin mortality in tuna fisheries, but dolphin populations in the worst-affected area have not recovered, and it appears that the current level of dolphin by-catch sanctioned by present-day fishery management and the ecolabel is not effective enough to achieve population recovery. The MSC ecolabel has established a poorly expressed environmental standard that has resulted in variable interpretations by certifiers, creating an apparently systematic bias in application of the standard to the certified fisheries. Without substantial revision of both these systems, it seems unlikely that they will be able to make major contributions to marine biodiversity conservation because of barriers created by limitations in programme design, lack of robust linkages between the certification standard and biodiversity conservation outcomes, and unclear standards and their inconsistent application in the certification of fisheries.
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This paper describes a new method for estimating illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) catches of fi sh and by-catch of birds. It utilises high quality, well-documented fi sheries protection vessel (FPV) cruise data. The method takes explicit account of both 'seen' and 'unseen' IUU fi shing by using a simulation model to arrive at statistically rigorous estimates of, and confi dence intervals for, fi sh and bird catches by IUU vessels. In order to estimate an IUU catch there must have been at least one encounter with an FPV in a year; no encounters in a year are interpreted as zero IUU fi shing. For each IUU incident detected by the FPV, a theoretical maximum time over which this IUU activity could have occurred was calculated. This was then converted to estimated actual IUU fi shing time, using a model simulating IUU vessel and FPV behaviour. IUU activity was considered to have been observed when the IUU vessel and the FPV vessel were in the same place at the same time. When this occurred, the FPV was assumed to detect IUU activity according to an 'encounter probability'. The encounter probability was estimated from the known encounters of FPVs with licensed vessels. The total annual IUU catch of toothfi sh and birds was calculated using a second simulation model. Subarea 48.3 was divided into six areas for the purposes of the estimation of fi sh and bird catch associated with IUU fi shing. The mean and variance of fi sh catch rate was calculated for each area and each year using reported catch and effort data. The catch rate of birds was estimated separately for summer and winter by bootstrapping previously published CCAMLR observer data weighted by the number of hooks observed. These data were obtained in the early licensed fi shery (1997) when few vessels used mitigation measures. Three years were analysed: 1998/99, 1999/2000 and 2000/01. Each year fully covered the period 1 October to 30 September, thus including one summer and one winter period. The estimated mean toothfi sh catches attributable to IUU fi shing were 776, 1 019 and 198 tonnes in 1998/99, 1999/2000 and 2000/01 respectively (a total over the three years of 1 994 tonnes). The distribution of estimated total bird catch was highly skewed, with medians in the three years of 621, 2 852 and 550 birds respectively. 95% confi dence limits were calculated to be 54–2 017, 468–1 779 and 22–487 tonnes respectively for fi sh and 162–7 752, 1 040–23 361, 140–9 023 respectively for birds. Despite continuing high levels of FPV coverage from 2001 to 2004, no further IUU activity has been detected, leading to estimates of zero fi sh and bird catches for the years 2001/02, 2002/03 and 2003/04.
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The environmental and/or life history factors affecting genetic exchange in marine species with potential for high dispersal are of great interest, not only from an evolutionary standpoint but also with regard to effective management. Previous genetic studies have demonstrated substantial differentiation among populations of the Patagonian toothfish around the Southern Ocean, indicating breakdown of gene flow across large distances between inhabited shelf areas. The present study examined genetic structuring through analysis of microsatellite loci and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of the mitochondrial ND2 gene and control region of the toothfish population in the SW Atlantic, allowing examination of the relative effects of the Antarctic Polar Front (APF), deep-water troughs and distance between sites. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data indicated a sharp genetic division between the Patagonian Shelf/North Scotia Ridge and the Shag Rocks/South Georgia samples, whereas microsatellite data showed much less distinct structuring and an intermediate position of the North Scotia Ridge samples. We suggest these data indicate that the APF, as a barrier to larval dispersal, is the major inhibitor of genetic exchange between toothfish populations, with deep-water troughs and distance between sites contributing to genetic differentiation by inhibiting migration of relatively sedentary adults. We also suggest that differences between mtDNA and nuclear DNA population patterns may reflect either genome population size effects or (putative) male-biased dispersal.
The genetic structure of Patagonian toothfish populations in the Atlantic and western Indian Ocean Sectors of the Southern Ocean (SO) were analysed using partial sequences of the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene and seven microsatellite loci. Both haplotype frequency data (F ST>0.906, P<0.01) and microsatellite genotype frequency data (F ST=0.0141–0.0338, P<0.05) indicated that populations of toothfish from around the Falkland Islands were genetically distinct from those at South Georgia (eastern Atlantic Sector SO), around Bouvet Island (western Atlantic Sector SO) and the Ob Seamount (western Indian Ocean Sector of the SO). Genetic differentiation between these populations is thought to result from hydrographic isolation, as the sites are separated by two, full-depth, ocean-fronts and topographic isolation, as samples are separated by deep water. The South Georgia, Bouvet and Ob Seamount samples were characterised by an identical haplotype. However, microsatellite genotype frequencies showed genetic differentiation between South Georgia samples and those obtained from around Bouvet Island and nearby seamounts (F ST=0.0037, P<0.05). These areas are separated by large geographic distance and water in excess of 3,000m deep, below the distributional range of toothfish (<2,200m). No significant genetic differentiation was detected between samples around Bouvet Island and the Ob Seamount although comparisons may have been influenced by low sample size. These localities are linked by topographic features, including both ridges and seamounts, that may act as oceanic “stepping stones” for migration between these populations. As for other species of deep-sea fish, Patagonian toothfish populations are genetically structured at the regional and sub-regional scales.
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