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Sockeye eco-certification in year of collapse risks MSC credibility: critic

The Marine Stewardship Council has taken a step towards certifying British Columbia's sockeye salmon fishery as ecologically sustainable, a move critics say risks the international organization's credibility.

“MSC certification of B.C. sockeye fishers is corporate eco-fraud,” said Vicky Husband, a senior adviser to the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “It's credibility will be lost to its consumers and markets.”

MSC's announcement comes in a year when Fraser River sockeye returns collapsed from an expected 10 million fish to around a million. In November prime minister Stephen Harper called a federal inquiry into the collapse.

“It's nuts to certify the Fraser above all when we've got a judicial inquiry into its management,” said Husband. The MSC should at least withhold its certification until after the inquiry is complete, she said.

The MSC's decision comes after nine years investigating the sustainability of the fishery, she said. There is now a 15 day period where people can raise objections, though Husband added certification appears to be a done deal. “Our experience in looking at objections is they never overrule.”

The MSC process appears to be more about certifying fisheries than about conservation, she said. “From its inception the MSC process has been a failure.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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