The implementation of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in Russia: Achievements and considerations
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification program in Russia is now well established and, in addition to fishery clients and stakeholders, involves environmental NGOs and experts familiar with the local management system. The present study aims to analyze the current status of the program and constitutes the first study covering all Russian MSC certifications. Based on certification reports and twenty semi-structured interviews with stakeholders, it was shown that problems with certification vary among fisheries. The most advanced in terms of management are the Barents Sea codfish fisheries, which are co-managed by Russia and Norway. The main concern of these fisheries is the use of bottom trawls, which may seriously affect bottom communities. The Alaska pollock fishery in the Sea of Okhotsk experienced serious pressure from rival fisheries during the certification process. In the Far East, interviewees dealing with the salmon fisheries note a high level of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and insufficient scientific data for comprehensive stock assessment. For small-scale inland perch fisheries from the central part of the country, recreational and illegal fishing are important problems that are difficult to quantify. Many interviewees repeatedly mentioned communication issues, difficulties with access to scientific and management information, and the overall complexity of the MSC certification process. The study shows that important preconditions to expanding certification are making the process manageable for export-oriented companies and developing a national market for sustainable seafood.
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