A leaked report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) describes “troubling, systemic flaws” within the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification scheme, casting doubt on the integrity of a program trusted by millions of seafood consumers around the world to identify fisheries that are sustainable and well-managed.
The WWF, which helped found MSC 20 years ago, identified a conflict of interest in MSC’s scheme, which charges a licensing fee of 0.5 percent of wholesale value to companies that use its logo to identify their products as originating from an MSC-certified fishery.
“Circumstantial evidence is accumulating that this creates a conflict with MSC’s role as an independent and impartial standard-setting body,” WWF wrote in the report, which was leaked to the Times of London newspaper.
There are now more than 23,000 products with the MSC ecolabel on sale to consumers in nearly 100 countries, according to the MSC. Revenue from licensing fees on those products amounted to GBP 11 million (USD 14 million, EUR 13 million) in revenue in the last fiscal year – approximately 73 percent of the organization’s total income.
MSC has “aggressively pursued global scale growth” and in recent years “has begun to reap very large sums from the fishing industry,” the WWF wrote regarding MSC.