Seafood Eco-Label Grapples With Challenge of Proving Its Impact

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Science  11 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6057, pp. 746
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6057.746

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With its seal of approval on more than 6% of all wild-caught fish, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the world's biggest eco-label for sustainable seafood. But it's also controversial: Critics have accused MSC of having subjective standards and not adequately protecting marine ecosystems. A new analysis, released last week, makes the most detailed case yet that MSC certification does yield environmental benefits. These benefits increase both while a fishery is applying for the eco-label and after it succeeds. The actual gains were more common in protecting fish populations; there was less "on the water" progress in improving the larger ecosystem. And the labeling system seems geared more for industrial operations than smaller fisheries.