The paper is available to read in full here
Sustainability standards and certification programmes are designed to distinguish producers and enterprises that implement sustainable practices that, in theory, contribute directly and indirectly to improvements in social, economic and ecological well being. ISEAL’s Impacts Code and the associated Demonstrating and Improving Poverty Impacts project aim to support ISEAL members to strengthen this connection between intentions and results.
In the wild-caught seafood sector, which faces the reality that over one-third of the world’s fisheries are overfished, sustainability standards promote environmental stewardship through the responsible management of fisheries, and ecolabels communicate this information to consumers. Wild-caught seafood is one of the most established sectors in which brands, retailers and other supply chain actors look to standards to make responsible purchasing decisions and achieve sustainability objectives.
For MSC, whose impressive growth, the study points out, has led to intense scrutiny of its certification decisions, it is essential to provide evidence that fisheries are healthier and more resilient as a result of certification. Demonstrating impacts legitimises the sustainability value of a standard and instills confidence that it should be supported and scaled up. The significant discrepancy in health between certified and non-certified fish stocks found by this study helps to validate the meaningful difference that MSC certification can make for protecting marine ecosystems.
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