Last week, we reported on UCCS's recent certification
by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), affirming its commitment to serving sustainable seafood on campus. As part of the article, we made note of a three-article series from NPR calling into question the MSC's diligence, describing a fundamental conflict of interest in their business model. Ultimately, Mark Hayes, director of Dining and Hospitality Services for UCCS, considered the situation and decided that MSC was sufficiently legit to pursue their certification.
After we released the story, MSC's US Media Manager, Jon Corsiglia, reached out to the Independent
to clarify MSC's business model. With his permission, we've run the letter below:
I wanted to reach out and correct the notion that there’s a conflict of interest in the MSC business model.
The MSC does not set the sustainable fishing standard by itself. Our standards were developed through consultation with the fishing industry, scientists, conservation groups, experts and stakeholders. These standards detail the requirements for fisheries to be certified as sustainable. Fisheries and seafood businesses voluntarily seek certification against the standards. To ensure that certification is credible and robust, assessment to our standards is carried out by independent, third party assessment bodies. The MSC does not do the assessments; does not make the decision whether or not the fishery is certified sustainable; and does not receive any money from the fisheries for their assessment/certification.
The MSC does charge companies a licensing fee to use the blue MSC ecolabel on consumer facing products. However, certified fisheries can use the trademark to promote their achievement of certification free of charge. It is also important to note that, while the MSC receives no payment from fisheries, MSC certified fisheries do make a considerable financial commitment and contribution to becoming MSC certified. For example, they must pay independent certification bodies to carry out assessments to the MSC Fisheries Standard, and employ staff / scientists to ensure that the requirements of the MSC Standard are met.
MSC labeled products can be traced back to fisheries that have been independently certified as sustainable. These fisheries are ensuring that the fish populations and the ecosystems on which they depend remain healthy and productive, now and in the future.
As more consumers, restaurants, retailers and processors choose MSC certified seafood, other fisheries are encouraged into assessment. Many make improvements in the way they fish the oceans in order to achieve certification. This is where real and lasting change can be delivered.
As supplies of sustainable seafood continue to grow, market awareness, demand and commitments to sustainable sourcing also increase. We hope this expanding cycle of supply and demand will ultimately lead to sustainable seafood becoming the norm.