The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Making of a Market for ‘Sustainable Fish’

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    Market-based instruments of fishery governance have been promoted in the past two decades on the basis of two widespread expectations: that complying with sustainability standards will lead to environmental benefits; and that certifications will not discriminate against specific social groups, countries or regions. This paper assesses whether these assumptions hold through the analysis of how the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label for capture fisheries has managed ‘supply’, ‘demand’ and ‘civic’ concerns in the market for sustainability certifications. The MSC has created and now dominates the market for ‘sustainable fish’, but success has been accompanied by serious challenges. The MSC has so far failed to convincingly show that its certification system has positive environmental impacts, and it has marginalized Southern fisheries, especially in low-income countries. As an institutional solution to the global fishery crisis, the MSC seems to be better tuned to the creation of a market for ‘sustainable fish’ rather than ‘sustainable fisheries’.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Agrarian Change
    Issue number2-3
    Pages (from-to)300-315
    Number of pages16
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Standards and Certification
    • Marine Stewardship Council
    • Sustainable Fish Market

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