Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Monday, 03 March 2008
I was impressed with the turnout at Saturday's Maine Fishermen's Forum in Rockport.
I don't know if it was the Maine lobster boat racing session first thing in the morning that brought in the crowds, but many fishermen braved a nasty winter storm and greasy roads to take part in the forum at the Samoset Resort. Thanks to all of you who participated in the sessions and stopped by our booth to check in.
The most interesting session for me was the discussion on Friday of Marine Stewardship Council certification of the Maine lobster industry. The feeling in that room was that Maine is going forward with a full assessment of the industry and working toward certification. (A presumably positive pre-assessment has already been conducted.)
Maybe there will be more push-back from lobstermen as the process moves forward, but I imagine processors see it as a winning proposition. They stand to make a lot more money and open up their markets with an MSC label.
I'm just not convinced that money will end up in lobstermen's hands. And if it does, whether it will be worth the investment.
Another implication I don't like is that if Maine lobstermen don't go forward with certification, then their product will be perceived as inferior to Canadian product, should our neighbors to the north proceed with certification.
And what happens if the MSC decides to certify aquaculture?
The big push from this group is that they help to educate the public on what's sustainable and therefore a wise purchase. Isn't it going to be confusing to introduce a new distinction between certified farmed and certified wild?
My suspicion is that the value of an MSC label will decline if they choose to apply it to aquaculture products.
If your fishery is certified, you are a stakeholder in the value of the MSC label. Let them hear your voice.
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