Sunday, January 17, 2010


By: Travis Lien

Sustainable fisheries are the obvious key to combating the rapid extinction of the bluefin tuna. However, there exist two problems; first, is the lack of motivation that fisherman and fisheries have to implement and maintain sustainable practices, and second, is the lack of knowledge consumers have about how the tuna they buy is being attained. Fortunately, ecolabeling solves both of these problems, at least in theory. Ecolabeling is best described by Michel J. Kaiser and Gareth Edward-Jones as “…the existence of a given label or mark on a product indicates that certain principles or practices have been adhered to during its production (393).” Problems of motivation are solved by the additional price of ecolabled products, generating a larger profit for facilities fit for certification. And of course consumers gain the option to buy products that support sustainability wherever they see the flashy blue mark.

The prominent organization responsible for ecolabeling and certifying fisheries and fishermen as sustainable is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). However, to eliminate bias and allow the MSC to focus on leadership, independent third party bodies perform the actual certifications by comparing fisheries to MSC standards. So far, as they celebrate their 10th anniversary with 42 certified fisheries, the MSC’s ecolabeling scheme is off to a slow yet promising start (

10th Anniversary. Marine Stewardship Council, 2009. Web. 17 Jan. 2010. .

Kaiser, Michel J., and Gareth Edward-Jones. "The Role of Ecolabeling in Fisheries Management and Conservation." Conservation Biology 20.2 (2006): 392-98. Society for Conservation Biology, 5 July 2005. Web. 17 Jan. 2010.

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