The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which administers a well known eco-labeling process to inform consumers which fisheries are sustainable, is becoming increasingly industry-friendly.

Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) on deck during long-lining operations. (Photo: Derke Snodgrass, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC/SFD)

A study just published by a group of researchers in the journal Biological Conservation found that several of the fisheries that received the MSC’s “sustainable” label — accounting for 35 percent of labeled seafood worldwide—do not meet the council’s standards.

Case in point: the sustainable label awarded to Canada’s longline swordfishery which has an extraordinarily high bycatch of other species. As the researchers noted, “for the 20,000 swordfish “sustainably” hooked in Canadian waters yearly, longliners also catch 100,000 sharks, 1,200 endangered loggerhead turtles, and 170 leatherback turtles.”

As the report’s lead author, Claire Christian, director of the Secretariat of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, observed “When the MSC labels a swordfish fishery that catches more sharks than swordfish ‘sustainable,’ it’s time to re-evaluate its standards.”

The UK based Marine Stewardship Council was founded by the World Wildlife Fund, one of the world’s biggest environmental groups, and Unilever, one of the world’s biggest seafood processors.

Source: Blue Marble.