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Scientists suggest ‘sustainable fish’ label actually misleads consumers

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The world’s biggest scheme to certify that seafish come from sustainable sources has come under fire in a scientific journal, where researchers say the label is too generous and may “mislead” consumers.

Writing in the journal Biological Conservation, a team of scientists say that objections made to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) about its well-known labelling scheme fail to get properly vetted.

Out of 19 objections filed to the MSC, only one has been upheld that has led to a refusal to certify a fishery, the study said. It also said there had been cases of mislabelling.

Objections include lack of knowledge about the long-term impact of fishing; accidental catch of endangered sharks and turtles; and the impact of dredging or seafloor trawling on bottom-living species.

“The MSC’s principles for sustainable fishing are too lenient and discretionary, and allow for overly generous interpretation by third-party certifiers and adjudicators, which means that the MSC label may be misleading both consumers and conservation funders,” the paper, published on Friday, said.

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