NORWEGIAN seafood eco-certification: a possibility? Sure!… but it may be a risky proposal (May 2014)

First posted 05.05.2014

“An increased focus on sustainable seafood has created a market for third-party sustainability certification,” commented on Monday (May 5, 2014) the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research. “However, many [Norwegian] people believe that it would be better if Norway took care of this itself”.

Nofima scientists have thus studied the possibility of establishing Norwegian sustainability certification. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is by far the largest and most well-known certification agency for seafood. Some countries (eg. Iceland) and some regions (eg. Alaska) have developed their own certification programmes. “Our study shows that alternative third-party certification is accepted by the market. We believe that the establishment of a Norwegian sustainability programme can give new opportunities. There may be, however, challenges associated with choosing not to use the MSC system,” commented Nofima scientist Bjørg Nøstvold. “[…]

A Norwegian national programme would have to repeat everything right from the start. Time, cost and efficient planning are therefore key concepts when considering whether to establish a national strategy.”

NB Ed: Ultimately, this difficult decision will rest with a Norwegian industry in full knowledge that a ‘wrong decision’ and loss of market share could take years to redress… At a time when the multiplicity of eco-certification schemes is increasingly becoming a topic of discussions (and benchmarking [eg. GSSI]) – as it is for ‘organic’ labels – retailers, processors and consumers may also end up ‘confused’ (again, for different reasons).

The fact that ‘willing’ and supporting publicity enjoyed by some [eg. blue] reputable ecolabels would otherwise have to be paid-for will also have to be taken into consideration and could debunk partly the Norwegians’ monetary argument for cost-saving; and/or increase that of marketing.

This will be one of hot topics debated this week in Brussels…

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