Marine Stewardship Council corrects the record

In a recent op-ed published in The Hill, author George Hochbrueckner wrote about Russian seafood. This article included several inaccurate statements about the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and we wish to take this opportunity to correct the record.

The MSC is an independent international, non-profit organization that was founded in 1997 following the collapse of the Grand Banks cod fishery.  Our vision is to confirm sustainable fishing practices through a voluntary program that is scientifically rigorous, independent, open and transparent. Only well managed fisheries which ensure the long-term sustainability of fish stocks and keep ecosystems healthy achieve MSC certification and can display our ecolabel on their packaging.   We operate from 14 offices around the world including Seattle, Singapore and Sydney. The MSC program is open to fisheries from around the world.

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The MSC does not compete with NOAA or any other government entity.  In fact, our work complements that of government. In early June, MSC certification of the entire U.S. West Coast groundfish fishery was widely celebrated across the country by fishers, business, conservation and government. It confirmed the success of a decade long effort led by NOAA to restore a fishery from one that had declared a disaster to one that is now independently certified to be sustainable.  As West Coast fishers poignantly noted during the MSC certification announcement in Portland, Oregon, this was not merely good fishery news, it also was good economic news for thousands of fishing families and coastal communities.  

There are many stories in the United States, and elsewhere, of corporate leaders working with the MSC to ensure the seafood they buy and sell is sourced from a fishery that has been independently as certified sustainable. For example, a major U.S. restaurant chain now proudly serves MSC certified Alaska pollock in all of its 14,000 restaurants

There are also many conservation organizations working diligently to ensure seafood sustainability.  One such organization is the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). Whilst we work to achieve similar goals, the SFP is entirely independent from the MSC. SFP is not a subsidiary of the MSC, as the article suggested. 

Seafood is a global commodity and over a billion people rely on the oceans as their main source of protein. Today around half the wild caught seafood in the United States is MSC certified.  This uptake of sustainable seafood has been driven by increasing demand from consumers for independent confirmation that the seafood they are buying is sourced from fisheries which are protecting fish stocks and ecosystems for generations to come. Periodic, independent DNA testing of random samples of MSC certified seafood continues to confirm over 99 percent accuracy. 

MSC is a trust mark that confirms sustainability of a fishery or, where appropriate, tracks fishery improvements in an open, public process that is always available for anyone to see online, http://www.msc.org. We invite everyone to visit the MSC website and learn more about our mission and vision of oceans teeming with life for this and future generations.

DeCesare is communications director, Americas, for the Marine Stewardship Council.

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