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Point of View: Rupert Howes

Chief executive, Marine Stewardship Council, London

Property of SeaFood Business magazine

November 01, 2008

Two elements are crucial to shift more fisheries worldwide to a sustainable basis: awareness and partnership. The solution to depletion of fish in our oceans is not elusive. Scientists, fishery managers, the seafood industry and environmental organizations may not always agree on exact data and the impacts of specific practices, but we have the means to monitor and manage how much fish we take out of the sea in relation to the stock's ability to replenish. And we know generally how to protect their habitat.

To advance sustainability, we need to raise awareness more broadly, not just of the problem, but of tools and options available to help ensure current sources of food and income and the future of fish stocks. Much progress has been made but we are still far from the goal. With increased knowledge and access to sustainable choices, the industry and consumers can play a significant role in driving further change.

There is no panacea or single solution, however. The MSC's market-based approach is an effective tool but it is only one in the toolbox. Ensuring that global fishery resources are sustainably managed takes a multi-faceted approach and partnership across a broad spectrum. It requires application of the best science to sound public policy, responsible management, enforcement efforts, eradication of IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing and other measures.

Expanding awareness worldwide and strengthening partnerships are both critical. Together we can generate a powerful movement and bring about major advances in ensuring fish now and for future generations.


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