News FocusFisheries

Behind the Eco-Label, a Debate Over Antarctic Toothfish

Science  24 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5999, pp. 1596-1597
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5999.1596

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Concerns about the certification process for sustainable fisheries have been reignited by a battle over the Antarctic toothfish, which lives in one of the most pristine marine ecosystems. Three fishing companies want to market it as sustainable and were on track to get the stamp of approval from the Marine Stewardship Council. But environmental organizations have objected, arguing that the label isn't warranted, given the paucity of data about the life history of the toothfish and the ecological impacts of fishing in the Ross Sea. An independent examiner is now reviewing the evidence. Whatever the outcome, the saga of the Antarctic toothfish shows that making a watertight case for sustainability can be devilishly difficult.