Sustainability Certification in Community-based Fisheries

by Fetherston, Elizabeth H.

Abstract (Summary)
Mismanagement of global fisheries resources has an overwhelmingly negative effect on the survival of community-based fisheries. In developing countries, community based fishing is a socially as well as economically valuable activity providing much needed employment and income in areas where there are few alternatives for either. In order to promote sustainability in these areas, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) are attempting to apply their sustainable seafood ecolabeling program to community-based fisheries.

The MSC and WWF examined ten community-based fisheries in 2000, including Prainha do Canto Verde, a fishing village in northeastern Brazil. Though the community harvested lobster in a sustainable manner, the larger fishery did not. The national lobster fishery in Brazil covers over 150,000 square kilometers and is characterized by illegal, unsustainable fishing practices and poor enforcement. As a result, the lobster stock remains in serious decline and faces the possibility of collapse. This failing stock health prevented the MSC from considering Prainha do Canto Verde for sustainability certification. Under the MSC, a sustainable product can never come from an unsustainable fishery, despite pockets of good management and environmentally responsible practices.

Currently, the MSC is powerless to promote sustainable practices in communitybased fisheries because the criteria relate directly to the sustainability of the product. By certifying small-scale communities that harvest sustainably within an admittedly unsustainable system, economic incentives for other communities to change their behavior could develop, to the benefit of the larger fishery. Recognizing the constraints inherent in the MSC, this project proposes alternative approaches to promoting the welfare of communities and the sustainability of their fisheries.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Eckert, Scott

School:Duke University

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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