New SeaChoice report: What’s behind the label?

by Sarah Foster on September 10th, 2017

Click to download “What’s behind the label?”


Our latest report reveals that seafood eco-certifications by two prominent organizations are falling short.

What’s behind the label? Assessing the impact of MSC and ASC seafood certifications in Canada is the first review of whether the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) have improved sustainability in Canadian seafood production.

With two-thirds of Canadian fisheries MSC-certified, and an industry goal to achieve ASC certification for all British Columbia farmed salmon by 2020, it is crucial these eco-labels are credibly applied and delivering genuine improvements.

While both eco-certifications may have been on the cutting edge of best practice at their outset, our analysis suggests this is no longer the case. After a decade, the role of MSC to help push improvement forward in Canadian fisheries is increasingly limited with most Canadian fisheries now certified. After only two years in Canada, ASC is in danger of lowering its sustainability bar by deferring to government regulations that are below their Standard.

It is essential that the Standards’ requirements of ‘sustainability’ are set high enough to reap adequate improvements to fishery and farming practice as they aim for certification. The schemes, otherwise, are only reinforcing status quo and, at worst, potentially undermining efforts to raise the bar higher. At risk is the credibility of eco-certifications, and ultimately, the health of marine ecosystems.

SeaChoice is committed to working with both certification schemes on recommended improvements as well as with government regulatory agencies to ensure that Canada’s laws and policies for fisheries and aquaculture operations set a high bar for sustainability.

More information:

What’s behind the label? (page on SeaChoice website)

Press release

Download reports:

What’s behind the label? Assessing the impact of MSC and ASC seafood certifications in Canada

A decade of MSC certifications in Canada – technical report

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certifications in Canada – technical report


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