VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - July 30, 2010) - Conservation groups in British Columbia are warning consumers to avoid purchasing endangered sockeye salmon certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Today, the MSC granted sustainability certification to the Fraser River commercial sockeye fishery despite last year's sockeye population collapse and an ongoing federal judicial inquiry into management of the fishery.
"Given recent events it is both misleading and irresponsible to certify the Fraser fishery as sustainable," said Greg Knox with SkeenaWild Conservation Trust. "We will be launching a new awareness campaign for European consumers advising that the certified salmon they are buying could come from B.C.'s endangered Fraser River sockeye population."
Scientists say the Fraser River sockeye fishery does not meet the criteria of a sustainable fishery because it continues to catch endangered salmon and strategies to recover dwindling fish populations are not being implemented.
"There is no way these kinds of endangered salmon should be considered a sustainable choice until the fisheries management system is improved and endangered stocks given a chance to recover," said Vicky Husband, Senior Advisor with Watershed Watch Salmon Society.
Under the MSC's third-party certification process, fishing industry "clients" hire private companies to determine whether a fishery meets the MSC's certification criteria. No fishery has ever been denied certification after completing the MSC assessment process, and no objection to a certification has ever been upheld.
"Obviously we have serious concerns with the objectivity of MSC's certification process," said Craig Orr, Executive Director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society. "For fisheries certification to be effective, consumers must be able to trust the certifier's evaluation process. In this case, it appears the MSC is simply using a rubber stamp."
Scientists at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust and David Suzuki Foundation launched a formal objection to the proposed certification last fall, which was rejected last week by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Two sockeye populations routinely caught by the Fraser River fishery have been officially listed as endangered species since 2003.