Behind the Signs - a global review of fish sustainability information schemes



Parkes G, Young J, Walmsley SF, Abel R, Harman J, Horvat P, Lem A, MacFarlane A, Mens M & Nolan C (2010) Behind the Signs - a global review of fish sustainability information schemes. Reviews in Fisheries Science, 18 (4), pp. 344-356.

This paper presents the results of a global review of organisations that provide sustainable fisheries information — including ecolabels, recommendation lists and supermarkets — to consumers and supply chain intermediaries. It examined 17 organisations and key supermarkets that communicate on the sustainability of world fisheries and aquaculture products. Certification schemes assess a relatively small number of specific fisheries and indicate sustainability through labels. Recommendation lists cover more species and areas but in less detail. FAO guidelines for fisheries ecolabelling and aquaculture certification constituted the benchmarks with which improving conformance was found. However, significant variation in fisheries’ assessment exists, affecting the accuracy and precision of information and advice provided. Inconsistent approaches and contradictory advice among certification schemes and recommendation lists potentially increase consumer confusion and reduce their credibility. The review identifies seven critical attributes schemes must address — scope, accuracy, independence, precision, transparency, standardisation and cost-effectiveness — and recommends that certification schemes and recommendation lists enhance their consistency and credibility through compliance with these attributes and FAO guidelines. Fish sustainability information schemes play an important role in securing a sustainable future for the oceans. Uptake of this review’s recommendations should reduce consumer confusion and increase confidence in the benefits of sustainable purchasing.

ecolabelling; fisheries; aquaculture; certification; recommendation lists; sustainable fisheries; market-based measures; Sustainable fisheries Data processing

Reviews in Fisheries Science: Volume 18, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2010
PublisherTaylor & Francis

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Professor Jimmy Young

Professor Jimmy Young

Emeritus Professor, Marketing & Retail