Recent commitments by major retailers to carry seafood certified as sustainably harvested represent a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness and instill a marine stewardship ethic in the consciousness—and buying habits—of a larger consumer audience. Yet increased demand for certified seafood creates a potential trade-off between increasing supply and safeguarding against unintended consequences for fishermen, fishing communities, and marine ecosystems. In existing and proposed seafood certification programs, there is some variability in the incorporation of environmental goals versus those related to social outcomes, such as subsistence fishing and food security, community engagement in and reliance on fishing, and labor practices.
Furthermore, as certification programs cover more of the world’s fisheries, are there other factors that should be considered? Specifically, the potential exists for “leakage” of impacts beyond targeted fisheries. This could occur if reducing the catch in one fishery results in increased fishing and potential negative social impacts in others.
At this RFF First Wednesday Seminar, co-hosted with the UC Davis Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute, national and international policymakers, leaders from nongovernmental organizations, representatives from certification programs and fisheries, and natural and social scientists will examine the future of certification program outcomes. Panelists will discuss the extent to which environmental and social impacts are considered in current and proposed certification programs, as well as highlight the implications of greater certification coverage in the context of increased demand for certified seafood.