Seafood Certification for Iceland

Fisheries are undeniably an important part of the global food supply. Whether they are, 20 years from now, a smaller or larger part of that supply depends chiefly on whether they are managed in a sustainable way. Doing so isn’t easy, given that most fisheries are “public goods”, not owned by anyone and hence subject to overuse by everyone. For such goods, we face the difficult challenge of finding mechanisms for reliable, voluntary, sustainable fishing. In that regard, here’s an interesting item from the Iceland Review Online: Icelandic Cod Fisheries Certified as Responsible

Icelandic cod fisheries received a Global Trust Certification, an international certification based on strict conditions which confirms responsible fishery control and sustainable use of the ocean’s resources, yesterday.

Managing director of Global Trust Certification Peter Marshall presented the certification to the representatives of the Icelandic fishing industry at a special ceremony in the Reykjavík Maritime Museum, a press release from the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners states.

“This certification from a third party which meets the demands and ethics regulations of the FAO in fisheries shows that cod fishing in Iceland is well and responsibly managed. I’d like to congratulate the Icelandic fishing industry,” Marshall said, adding that Iceland could become a role model for other nations….

Interestingly, the article actually says very little (roughly zero) about what in particular this implies. What counts as an “ethical” or “sustainable” fishery? I have no idea, based on this article. All I know is that Global Trust has certified that Icelandic fisheries are.

And what’s not entirely clear if you read the article quoted above too quickly is that Global Trust doesn’t actually set fishery standards: they just certify that an organization’s (or country’s) practices meet a stated standard set by someone else. In this case, it seems to be Iceland’s own standard, one based on standards set by the FAO:

The Icelandic Fisheries Association, the main interest association of the Icelandic fish industry, took the initiative in developing the certification system in Iceland, which is based on international standards: guidelines and ethics from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN….

Now in pointing this out, I’m not promoting skepticism. I’m just pointing out how interestingly complicated the certification and multi-tiered the process is.

(In case you’re interested in the details of what certification does and does not imply, here’s the Global Trust’s Seafood Trust Certification page.)

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
This entry was posted in certifiction, fisheries, international. Bookmark the permalink.