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2021 | Buch

Blue Governance in the Arctic and Antarctic

Private Fisheries Certification and the Law of the Sea


Über dieses Buch

This book discusses to what extent the precautionary approach to fisheries management is reflected in the MSC Fisheries Standard and in the certification of four clusters of fisheries in polar waters. Certification according to private sustainability standards (ecolabelling) has become an important addition to public fisheries management in recent years. The major global ecolabel in terms of comprehensiveness and coverage is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard. Becoming and remaining certified requires continuous behavioural adaptation from fisheries through a fine-meshed system of improvement conditions attached to certification. Focus is on how certification has influenced fisher behaviour and state practice. In the Southern Ocean krill and toothfish fisheries, MSC certification has generated new scientific knowledge about the stocks. In the Barents Sea cod and haddock fisheries, fishing companies have voluntarily adapted their behaviour to reduce the fishery’s impacts on endangered, threatened and protected species and bottom habitats. In the local lumpfish fisheries in Greenland, Iceland and Norway, measures have been introduced to reduce the effects on seabirds and marine mammals. In the Northeast Atlantic mackerel fisheries, impacts have been more modest. Private certification is no panacea, but it seems to have found a niche as a supplement to national legislation and international agreements.


Chapter 1. Introduction
Certification by private sustainability schemes has become a prerequisite for export—oriented fisheries around the world, and the most extensive and widespread scheme is that of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Seafood exporters face not only lower prices for non-MSC-certified products: they are also effectively barred from some of the most lucrative global markets if their fish is not MSC-certified. Social science research on the MSC often focuses on the perceptions and effects of the MSC beyond fisheries management as such, addressing, inter alia, consumer willingness to pay for certified products, the legitimacy of the MSC Standard among stakeholders and the environmental, economic and social effects of MSC certification. By contrast, this book analyses the MSC Certification Scheme as a ‘semi-legislative’/‘regulatory’ system and its links with international fisheries law, specifically the precautionary approach to fisheries management. It includes an investigation of the effects of MSC on fisher behaviour, national legislation and other forms of state practice.
Geir Hønneland
Chapter 2. The Precautionary Approach, Implementation and State Practice
The term ‘implementation’ is used in the literature in narrow and broad forms. In brief, the narrow version sees implementation as referring to the transformation or incorporation of international obligations (with legally binding rules) and commitments (with non-legally binding rules) into national law only, whereas the broader version also includes changes in other forms of state practice (beyond the introduction and/or amendment of national legislation, including the application of general concepts in concrete circumstances) and target behaviour aimed at effectuating the requirements of the international instrument/national legislation. Further, conceptions differ as to who can be actors in implementing activities. In the narrow version, only states may implement international agreements, as national legislation is their remit. In the broad version, other actors can contribute to the implementation process, typically non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations, and implementation is understood as all activities deliberately and explicitly aimed at bringing the behaviour of target groups into line with the requirements of international agreements, and national legislation insofar as it reflects international commitments.
Geir Hønneland
Chapter 3. The MSC Certification Scheme and the Precautionary Approach
The MSC Fisheries Certification Scheme, i.e. the Fisheries Standard and the Fisheries Process Requirements, includes both substantive and procedural requirements to precaution. First, the application of the approach is evaluated as such for fisheries under assessment. Second, it serves as a general interpretation device in the application of the Standard. Third, the Standard is designed to assist in the operationalization and application of precautionary biological reference points. Fourth, certification is not only a question of the status of the (target) stocks. The scheme involves a thorough assessment of the fishery’s impacts on the marine ecosystem, including bycatch species, endangered, threatened and protected species (ETP species) and habitats—as well as management components such as a well-functioning legislative base and institutional set-up, transparency and stakeholder participation, compliance and enforcement, and review of the management system.
Geir Hønneland
Chapter 4. MSC Certification of Antarctic and Arctic Fisheries
This chapter examines the results of MSC certification in four clusters of fisheries in polar waters: one in the Antarctic and three in the (sub-)Arctic. MSC certification has had several precautionary effects in these fisheries. It has (i) been an attestation to the appropriateness and soundness of the established reference points and harvest control rules (HCR) in the Barents Sea cod and haddock fisheries; (ii) helped to ascertain the appropriateness and soundness of HCRs in the Southern Ocean toothfish and krill fisheries and (iii) been the direct cause of the development and establishment of reference points and HCRs in the Arctic lumpfish fisheries. Improvements have been made to management systems beyond the introduction of reference points and HCRs: new research and information gathering has been conducted in the Southern Ocean, and efforts have been made to reduce impacts on bottom habitats in the Barents Sea and on seabirds and marine mammals in the Arctic lumpfish fisheries. Effects are more modest in the Norwegian Sea mackerel fisheries, where the coastal states for several years have not been able to agree on sustainable fishing quotas. MSC certification has not alleviated the situation, and in 2020 the mackerel certificate was suspended.
Geir Hønneland
Chapter 5. Influence on Target (Fisher) Behaviour and State Practice
The effects of MSC certification on fisher behaviour have been greater than the effects on state practice. The Southern Ocean fisheries had suffered from lack of information on fish stocks and the ecosystem—MSC certification led to new research initiatives and voluntary collection of data by fishers, and new epistemic communities were formed. However, certification did not lead to any new public regulations. In the Barents Sea, MSC certification directed attention to the fishery’s effects on the marine environment, especially bottom habitats. MSC fishery clients in Russia joined forces to develop new fishing gear and voluntarily avoid potential new fishing areas that have not yet been properly researched. This is, however, not reflected in legislation. In the Northeast Atlantic mackerel fisheries, the fishing industry in various European countries joined forces to persuade their respective governments to agree on quotas in line with scientific recommendations, to no avail. The situation is different in the lumpfish fisheries, where states produced new reference points and harvest control rules, and at least some regulations can be attributable to MSC certification.
Geir Hønneland
Chapter 6. Conclusions
Private certification has become a ‘separate lane’ to implementation of the precautionary approach to fisheries management—it has found its niche as a supplement to implementation by states, assuming a subsidiary but significant role. States work individually and in partnership, primarily in regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), to further the implementation of the precautionary approach, but they are in effect assisted by private certification. The visible and non-visible interaction between state action and private certification creates a constructive dynamic that takes the implementation of the precautionary approach further. The iterative and evolving nature of the MSC Certification Scheme ensures further robustness. The Scheme is a ‘living’ and dynamic implementation mechanism—internally, as an iterative and evolving scheme, and externally, working in tandem with state implementation.
Geir Hønneland
Blue Governance in the Arctic and Antarctic
verfasst von
Geir Hønneland
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