Putting the MSC on the hook for certifying unsustainable fishing
On the Hook launched in August 2017 amidst growing concerns amongst many conservationists, scientists and other stakeholders that the MSC has dropped its bar for sustainability too low. While the MSC could and should be a force for good, substantial reform is required for it to effectively perform its role of incentivising sustainable fishing.
What is On The Hook about?
On the Hook launched to call for the MSC to hold off on recertifying the Western Pacific’s PNA fishery – the world’s largest tuna fishery – until it could be proven that all fishing in the region was sustainable. In this fishery, a fishing vessel and crew can use the same fishing gear one day to fish tuna sustainably, receiving the MSC certification, and then on the same trip be hauling turtles, sharks, juvenile tuna and other protected species unsustainably.
As a result of On the Hook’s campaigning MSC has now banned such artificially ‘compartmentalised’ fisheries from seeking certification from September 2020 onwards.
Update, 13th February 2020: Marine Stewardship Council adopts On the Hook campaign ask, bans compartmentalisation by fishing practice.
On the Hook continues to call for vital MSC reform, specifically for a Fins Naturally Attached policy to
be required across all MSC-certified fisheries to prevent shark finning and an independent review to
be commissioned into the MSC Standard and its application.
We've found that...
We are a campaign made up of seafood retailers, producers, charities and academics committed to creating a more sustainable fishing industry.
How can you help?
You can let the MSC know that you want to be sure that when you buy MSC-certified fish, it comes from a fishery that only conducts sustainable fishing and where no shark finning can take place.
Follow us on Twitter at @OnTheHookMSC for updates and to support our campaign!
We believe that it is unacceptable that a fishing vessel and crew can use the same gear one day to fish tuna sustainably, receiving the MSC certification, and then on the same trip be hauling turtles, sharks, juvenile tuna and other protected species unsustainably.
The MSC website proudly states ‘When you see seafood with the blue MSC label, you can be sure it comes from a sustainable fishery’. The issue with the PNA detailed above, is one reason we no longer believe this to be the case. Other MSC-certified tuna, caught by pole-and-line for example, does not create significant by-catch. However, this tuna receives the same right to bear the MSC logo as that from the PNA fishery, despite the environmental risks around practices carried out in the latter. To the consumer, they see no difference between these very different products, which is clearly not the case and is misleading.
In our view, MSC has lost its way and, more than ever, needs its Board to put it back on the right course to maintain the support of its stakeholders. We therefore ask you to immediately halt the re-certification of the PNA fishery and to urgently review the MSC standard in relation to allowing MSC-certified products to be caught alongside such unsustainable methods of fishing.
We thank you for considering this letter and look forward to your swift response.
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Contact On The Hook
On the Hook is a coalition formed of individuals and organisations who share concerns about the unsustainable practice of compartmentalisation in MSC certified fisheries.
The On the Hook campaign is funded by a number of our members through in-kind and financial contributions, with the majority of financial contributions provided by World Wise Foods.
We are very grateful to the many individual and organisational supporters of On the Hook who do not contribute financially but make in-kind contributions, devoting a huge amount of their time and capacity to this campaign. This support is absolutely invaluable.