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Fisheries and Aquaculture Certification

image of Fisheries and Aquaculture Certification

Concerns about sustainability and the effectiveness of fisheries management on the part of the public have resulted in demand from NGOs, retailers and consumers for assurances that the food they purchase has been sustainably produced. This has led to a number of private entities responding to this demand by establishing eco-labels and certification schemes that claim to provide credible information to the consumer. These labels intend to serve the interest of fishers and processors who need to transmit positive information to the consumer to maintain their markets, and serve consumers by providing information not elsewhere available.

This report considers the growing trend in information requirements for seafood products in general, and in particular to the distinct sustainability features of wild capture fisheries and aquaculture. This work refers primarily to privately-driven certification schemes which have become an established feature of the market for eco-labels in fisheries and aquaculture. The report focuses on private eco-labelling and analyzes the economics of certification schemes, discusses key issues at the interface between public authorities, private labelling schemes, business operators and consumers. Finally, main findings and messages to policy makers are addressed.

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Private certification

Main issues

This chapter focuses on private eco-labelling, outlining the incentive structure of the different stakeholders in the market for certification and describing the factors that influence these relationships. The role for public participation is a central issue due to the overlap of public and private objectives. Some countries take the view that private eco-labels are of little relevance to policy and so should remain within the sphere of consumer choice in the marketplace. Others find that labels can assist domestic fishing industries that face marketing problems and would like to ensure that any such benefit is maximised. Where public objectives and that of the private labels differ, influencing the content and operation of an eco-labelling scheme can increase public benefits. Ideally, governments will take advantage of any positive interaction between the private and the public to further their sustainability agendas. Market requirements like private eco-labelling are becoming increasingly an issue for producers in developing countries. Hence, this chapter also provides a summary of the ongoing discussions on private certification and policy coherence for development, in particular with regard to market access.

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