Hakai: Red Gold

Op-ed article from Red Gold author Jennifer Telesca

Illuminating the conditions for global governance to have precipitated the devastating decline of one of the ocean’s most majestic creaturesBuying fish with a clear conscience isn’t easy these days. The ocean is so depleted and the demand so high that only half of the world’s seafood comes from the wild. The rest is farmed. Well-intentioned consumers want to know how to minimize harm through their purchasing power when at retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Walmart, and Whole Foods. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) offers one of several guides. I’m afraid it’s a sham.

For nearly 25 years, the MSC has positioned itself as the fishing industry’s gold standard for ecolabeling. To be MSC certified is to be identified as the best choice in wild-caught seafood, so the branding goes. Authorized contractors paid by fleets seeking certification are supposed to remain independent and take a science-based approach to verify for consumers that the fish they buy meets MSC standards: whether a fish is abundant, legal, subject to robust regulations, and caught with methods that minimize by-catch. Other aspects, such as whether a fish is high in mercury or sourced from fleets respecting human rights, are outside MSC’s criteria.


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