What really is to be kept from the fish seal
Overfished oceans. Dolphins and turtles as bycatch. Cases of slavery in Southeast Asian fisheries. The food fish has backsides that can spoil your appetite.
A logo with a stylized fish, a check mark and the three letters MSC wants to spare people the reading guide during shopping: The blue and white seal denotes fish and seafood from “certified, sustainable fishing”. 20 years ago, the MSC, short for Marine Stewardship Council, was founded. Time to ask what such a seal can do.
Review: Cod wastage for the first time showed overfishing
In the early 1990s, overfishing became a hot topic as thousands of factory workers and fishermen lost their jobs in Canada as cod stocks collapsed. Until then, many thought the seas were inexhaustible. Now the first woke up.Until the founding of the MSC, years passed, until 1997. It was two unequal partners who founded the charitable organization on 10 December: the environmental foundation WWF and the global corporation Unilever, which at that time included the frozen food manufacturer Iglo.
Not politics, but industry and NGOs acted
An environmental organization and a big fish processor at a table. That it comes to that speaks volumes. “The establishment of the MSC was the issue of a political indictment,” said Robert Habeck, Schleswig-Holstein’s Green Environment Minister, at a recent MSC Jubilee conference in Berlin. The seal as a “crazy idea” – as the founding is retrospectively referred to by many – filled a gap. There are allegations in the direction of politics until today: “The MSC will remain a drop in the bucket, if the policy does not change,” warns Heike Vesper, director of the International WWF Center for Marine Conservation.
MSC Standards: Do not catch more than regrow
The MSC describes itself as guardian and developer of a method to verify sustainable fisheries. This standard was developed according to MSC data from “more than 200 scientists, decision-makers and industrial and environmental groups”. Essentially, fishery companies are not allowed to catch more fish than to regrow, they must not cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem and must be “exemplary”.
89 percent of the fish stocks are exhausted
According to the World Food Organization (FAO), up to 89 percent of commercially used fish stocks have been exhausted, overfished or even collapsed. The head of the Thünen Institute for Baltic Sea Fisheries, Christopher Zimmermann, speaks of stagnation. “We do not yet see a global trend reversal, but it does not go downhill.”
In the 60s, 70s and 80s every German ate eleven kilos of fish and seafood a year, now it is more than 14 kilos. The German consumers, white fish fans, are considered demanding, but price-conscious: They would like to know the name of fish and fishermen, but the product should cost as little as 99 cents, describes Iglo boss Antje Schubert the crux of the industry. She says, “The logo is almost a must today.” It allows “to create appreciation”, “to tell a story”. It is also a lubricant that lets consumers dig deeper into their pockets.
MSC share in wild caught is 12 percent
The proportion of MSC-certified wild catches worldwide is 12 percent and is expected to grow to 20 percent by 2020, to one third by 2030. More than 27,000 sealed products are already on the shelves worldwide. Work is about in southern Europe, Japan, China and South Korea before, MSC boss Rupert Howes sets the course.
Criticism of the MSC seal
If the MSC share continues to grow, will not that soften the standard? Allegations that the MSC no longer look so closely and have awarded the seal partly wrongly, have been in the room for some time. “So far, many have come in, for whom it was easy to get the seal,” says WWF expert Vesper. It is mainly large fisheries that can afford the certification. For the little ones, on the other hand, the pressure is growing: how long can they still sell fish without seals? They should not be the stupid in the end, demanded politician Habeck.
Looking ahead, Vesper warned that if black sheep were attached, that was the worst. The MSC-close scientist Zimmermann justifies the awarding of the seal even in controversial fisheries: In the one “in critical organizations” infiltrate, let achieve the most.
“A positive effect of founding the MSC is undisputed,” says marine biologist Sandra Schöttner of Greenpeace. It has led to a rethinking of dealers and consumers. Nevertheless, she has a number of criticisms of the MSC: “The biggest problem is that the MSC forgives lobbying,” she says. The certification is given too early in the process – for promises on paper. In addition, the MSC is in conflict with the industry. From the point of view of Greenpeace, truly sustainable fisheries can currently not guarantee any of the labels on the market.
While the WWF recommends to consider fish as a “non-everyday delicacy”, so also in the consumption frequency to set, one waits at the MSC on such references to marine conservation in vain. Also on the repeated demand of a participant, how much fish can be eaten per week, replies MSC boss Howes evasive. He gets into raptures when he talks about a stay in Japan. With several times fish on the plate, per day.