Wednesday, June 26 • 10:30 - 12:00
Labelling and certification

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Chaired by: Penca, J.

Navigating through a sea of indicators: The impression, implementation and impact of sustainability certification for salmon aquaculture.
Vilde Steiro Amundsen 
NTNU Social Research

Despite the proliferation of the concept of ‘sustainability’, there lacks a consensus as to what it actually entails and how it can be accomplished. Still, it is often spoken of as if it were a specific goal to be achieved through environmental conservation and ‘the social stuff’. As with other all-embracing umbrella terms (e.g. globalization and culture), its actual meaning emerges through the content that the concept is given when operationalized. In the SustainFish project, we have explored an important source of content for sustainability in aquaculture: sustainability certification.

Certification schemes develop standards consisting of criteria in the form of indicators, with which aquaculture companies need to comply in order to become certified. These indicators must be measurable, transferable and comparable, allowing the same standard to be applied across different companies and countries. While standards emanate from the idea of objectivity, it is important to keep in mind that they are both made and managed by people. By employing standardization as a means towards sustainability, an operationalized understanding of the concept is formed through different stages of translation.

Firstly, translating an idea into indicators involves stakeholders with different motives navigating the many challenges and tradeoffs of ‘sustainable aquaculture’, resulting in an array of standards that together produce an impression of sustainability. This is further translated through the implementation of the standards, where the aquaculture companies must interpret and adapt them to each organizational and geographical context. Lastly, the meaning of sustainability is translated through the impact of certification, as the implemented measures will necessarily bring about different outcomes depending on the local environmental, social and economic conditions.

Exploring the impression, implementation and impact of these standards provides valuable insight into the role of certification in making the aquaculture industry more sustainable, whatever that may entail.

Shared governance of seas? Enhanced mandatory food labelling as a sustainability tool
Jerneja Penca

There is scope for the rising profile of the oceans in policy-making and among the public to impact on the governance model. While the private sector and the scientific community are making their inroads onto the governments’ ordinances in the management of oceans and seas, the involvement of citizens, in their role as consumers, remains under-explored.
This article discusses the involvement of this group of stakeholders through examining a case study of fisheries and seafood products. The article considers the tools available to consumers in order to bear part of the burden of supporting sustainability in fisheries alongside governments, fishers and retailers, and argues that these are insufficient. As an alternative to expanding ecolabelling, the potential of properly designed mandatory food labelling is highlighted as a viable policy tool which targets the consumers of seafood in the markets of developed countries. Elements of desirable labelling requirements are discussed, in a non-exhaustive way, balancing between the consumer benefit, practical viability and scientific knowledge. The modes of implementation are also outlined, noting in particular the role of traceability, data sharing and modern technologies in that context. The article puts special emphasis on the proposals for improving the EU food labelling requirements, in view of the EU’s economic potential and political ambition to deliver on sustainability in its waters and influence global fisheries regimes. However, using the EU as a reference, rather than an end-point, the article is relevant for global discussions on the potential role of an overlooked stakeholder (the consumer) and a policy tool (mandatory labelling) for greater sustainability in the context of shared responsibility among stakeholders – a feature that characterises governance of various other regimes (human rights, decent labour), particularly in countries with developed markets and strong governance structures.

The systemic impacts of the Marine Stewardship Council: socio-economic effects of fisheries certification
Amanda Lejbowicz  & Katie Longo

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an internationally renowned fisheries certification program, initiated to contribute to efforts to reduce unsustainable fishing and to safeguard seafood supplies for the future. A key, but unexplored, attribute of the program is the multi-stakeholder process that is typical of most fisheries engaging in the process. We argue that this component of program plays a key role in engendering improvement in fisheries.
The experience of the last 20 years has shown that successful fisheries certification processes and high performing improvement projects are characterised by active collaboration and formal partnerships between stakeholders, including fishers, processors, retailers, government, NGOs and scientists. The consequence of it has been the implementation of actions driving improvements in the management of many fisheries, with some progressing to become certified.
However, the socio-economic benefits that result from the multi-stakeholders partnerships during certification processes and fisheries improvement projects are still underexplored. Non-market incentives, such as investment opportunities, increased collaboration among stakeholders or improved transparency in the fisheries management are among the unintended aspects of the MSC certification that we invite a diverse range of experts to brainstorm on. Their experience with fisheries of different sizes and natures will bring new angles of reflexion about the potential of the MSC to be used as a tool, not only to preserve or restore fisheries, but also to drive socio-economic improvements in fisheries.

Wednesday June 26, 2019 10:30 - 12:00
REC A1.05 Roeters Eiland Complex, University of Amsterdam