The Marine Stewardship Council is the only global sustainable-seafood certifier, the gold-standard for environmentally-friendly fish. Last week, we discussed why it could be better to eat wild-caught rather than farmed fish. If you want to be sure that wild-caught fish you’re buying is eco-friendly, look for the blue, eco-certified MSC label.
“The Marine Stewardship Council currently sets the highest credible standards on sustainable fishing practices, labeling, and traceability for wild caught fish,” according to Bryan Szeliga, a chef in Charlottesville, VA.
Unfortunately, seafood mislabeling is quite common. Chilean Sea Bass is a Marine Stewardship Council-certified fish. But in last week’s Current Biology, biologist Peter Marko published the results of a little consumer testing he did on the fish. Marko visited 10 different supermarkets and bought 36 filets of what was marked as certified sustainable Chilean sea bass. He then did DNA sampling. Thirteen percent of Marko’s fish were from another (uncertified) stock, and 8% were a different species altogether. “If these eco-certified fish were Dior handbags, one in every 12 would probably be a knockoff,” writes GOOD food editor Peter Smith.
The MSC says this shouldn’t discourage you from taking heed of their ratings, though. The Council is investigating the products reported as mislabeled. “Our investigation will identify if any breach has occurred and pinpoint exactly where in the supply chain it happened,” says MSC Deputy Standards Director Amy Jackson. “If proven, it could result in the suspension or withdrawal of their Chain of Custody certificate.”
The MSC only inspects and certifies wild-caught fish, not aquaculture/farm-raised. Chef Szeliga points out that nearly all Pacific and Atlantic oysters are “responsibly farmed, sustainable, and listed on Seafood Watch as Best Choice,” but cannot receive MSC certifying.