A new analysis of four eco-labelling schemes for marine fish products – Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Friend of the Sea, Iceland Responsible Fisheries and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – commissioned by WWF, found that the MSC remains the most compliant with international sustainability criteria. This analysis is an update of a previous 2009 study which looked at 17 seafood eco-labels and certification programmes.
The new report analyses and evaluates the recent changes in these selected ecolabelling schemes, according to an updated set of sustainability criteria developed by WWF, in terms of the standard-setting process and ecological aspects. A WWF representative said that ‘given the current confusion surrounding the meaning of different ecolabels, it is important to get a clear, independent assessment of their certifications to help consumers make informed choices’.
The report notes that none of the four schemes are complying with all of the WWF sustainability criteria. The MSC is compliant at 93%, while other schemes have scores ranging between 46% and 54%, with low scores particularly on implementation procedure and transparency. It should be noted that MSC is not fully compliant with the new ecological criteria in this report.
The report further notes that the four schemes evaluated have introduced significant changes since 2009, including the addition of new requirements and procedures.
It is not surprising that MSC emerges as the best ecolabelling scheme according to WWF criteria, inasmuch as WWF participated in the establishment of the MSC, and both organisations use the same criteria. What is most important for ACP country producers entering ecolabelling schemes, is to realise that they constantly evolve, with new criteria being introduced that have to be complied with. So to maintain an eco-label on their products – in order to keep new market opportunities open – ACP producers may constantly have to face new challenges, and incur new costs. It will therefore be important for them to carefully analyse how these challenges and costs can be met over time, before entering the certification process.