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MSC: Being Compared To Earth Island Is Not Appropriate Global, September 6, 13

In reaction to comments made by Earth Island Institute (EII), MSC has highlighted the differences between its standard and EII Dolphin-Safe and explained why a comparison between the two is not justifiable. MSC points to two main reasons why there has been no building of EII requirements into its own.

Following recent reports that EII had been in talks with MSC about adopting some of its dolphin safe standards, David Agnew, Standards Director for MSC said: “I remember we did talk some years ago now about the possibility, but we haven’t done it for two reasons.
“One is that MSC has deliberately created an outcome standard which means fisheries are assessed on their performance, not whether they sign a piece of paper. Earth Island is very much input based.

“The second thing is that we are very specifically about overall global impacts, which means our standard isn’t just about dolphins or turtles.”

However, EII has recently been quoted in saying that the MSC certification does not offer the kind of by-catch protections that you might expect from an eco-label, putting it secondary to the issue of over fishing.

Agnew explained: “This is wrong. I mean when they say the dolphin safe label means that you don’t kill dolphins, that’s untrue, because they do kill dolphins, but what they do is try and minimize that catch. The impact on dolphins, turtles and sharks is definitely present in our assessments.

“We have three principles within our standard and they all have equal status. The issue of by-catch certainly has equal status to stock management. What EII does is pick out the single issue to do with dolphins and only focuses on that. The stock of species is no concern to them what so ever.”

The three principles of the MSC standard focus on the maintenance of target stocks; the maintenance of the eco-system, covering by-catch; and effective management, making sure that fisheries meet all local, national and international laws.

Agnew explained that while MSC was conscious of and sympathetic to the objectives of dolphin safe, they simply did not fit into its outcome based operations.

He said: “We could pick their text up and just shove it into our assessment methodology, but we believe the current MSC standard is robust and would not certify a fishery that is engaging in the activities that EII would object to. If you were causing harm to dolphins then you would not pass MSC.”