Fisheries certification in the developing world: Locks and keys or square pegs in round holes?
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the frontrunner in fisheries certification, receiving both extensive support and strong criticisms. The increasing uptake by fisheries and markets (almost 10% of world fisheries tonnage engaged by the end of 2014) has been followed by a widening pool of stakeholders interacting with the MSC. However, the applicability of the MSC approach for fisheries in the developing world (DW) remains doubtful, reinforced by a worldwide uptake skewed towards developed world fisheries. Here, a group of MSC stakeholders, with the aid of an ad-hoc questionnaire survey, reviews constraints to MSC certification in DW fisheries, evaluates solutions put forward by the MSC, and recommends actions to improve MSC uptake by DW fisheries. Recommendations to the MSC include researching and benchmarking suitable data-limited assessment methods, systematizing and making readily available the experiences of certified fisheries worldwide and constructing specific fisheries capacity-building for regional leaders. The MSC can further review the certification cost, especially for small-scale fisheries and, in partnership with other institutions, mobilize a fund to support specific DW fishery types. This fund could also support the development of market opportunities and infrastructures likely to satisfy local conditions and needs. For wider market intervention, the MSC should consider embarking on some form of vertical differentiation. Finally, for fisheries that may never move towards certification, the group identifies tools and experiences available at MSC that can improve environmental performance and governance bearing.