Environmental group CEO pushes for tighter fishing regulations

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Rupert Howes is CEO of the Marine Stewardship Council, an advocacy group committed to sustainable fishing practices.

The council is the world's leading certification and eco-labeling program for sustainable seafood. A blue Marine Stewardship Council label on seafood serves as a certification that the fisherman who landed the catch did so in a sustainable way for the future of that species.

Howes recently wrote a blog for the Huffington Post in which he makes the case for his organization.

“For centuries, cod was so abundant off the coast of Newfoundland that a scoop through the waves with a basket would land a decent catch,” he writes in his blog.

“Fishing was one of the last industries to modernize during the Industrial Revolution, but when it did, it soon caught up. As sail gave way to steam and then diesel, too many boats were soon chasing too few fish.”

Howes said the Marine Stewardship Council was founded in 1997 through a partnership between the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever, which was then the world's largest purchaser of frozen white fish.

“MSC was established to develop a market-based solution to an environmental problem at a time when the concept of social enterprise was still emerging,” Howes writes. “Supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders, MSC developed its standard for environmentally responsible and sustainable fishing, which is now the most recognized program for assessment of sustainable fisheries.

“With leadership from our partners and supporters, MSC is driving real and lasting change in the way our oceans are fished as markets increasingly demand traceable and sustainable seafood choices. There are now 240 fisheries certified and a further 103 in assessment, landing over 10 percent of the annual wild harvest taken from our oceans each year.

“For the MSC program to work, there has to be an economic case that rewards good practice and incentivizes improvement and an ecological case demonstrated by changes on the water, when needed, which is ultimately what this is all about. The engine for this transformation is the market.”

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