The certification of small-scale fisheries

Mihoko Wakamatsu, Hiroki Wakamatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Eco-labeling is a market-driven mechanism to promote sustainable fisheries. The most widely used certification scheme for seafood eco-labeling is issued by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), but the MSC has been criticized for favoring large-scale industrial fisheries. The benefits from eco-labeling can potentially be significant, ranging from price premiums to enriched understanding of fisheries management among fishers; however, anecdotal evidence from MSC-certified fisheries across various countries highlights the struggle of many small-scale fisheries to meet the costs of certification. The lack of environmental awareness in domestic markets can impede the spread of MSC eco-labeling among small-scale fisheries. In the absence of consumer preferences for seafood sustainability, and without subsidies, the certification may not be an appropriate tool for small-scale seafood producers. Examination of the case of an MSC-certified small-scale fishery suggests some efforts to achieve economies of scale; multi-species fisheries can apply for MSC certification as a single unit of assessment, and fisheries can cooperate with neighboring fisheries that target the same fish stock to share assessment costs. In a market where no price premium has been generated, effective face-to-face marketing is pivotal. The MSC will need to be committed to pursuing price premiums in new markets if it is to extend its reach further to small-scale fisheries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-103
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Policy
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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