Product certification & ecolabelling for fisheries sustainability
FAO Fisheries technical paper Series, Vol. 422

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ISBN : 9789251046975 EAN : 9789251046975
FAO
Product certification and ecolabelling are tools that can be used to support fisheries management. These tools, while inter-related and serving the same goal, have important differences as currently applied in fisheries. Product certification is commonly a measure mandated by governments, often mutually agreed upon by regional fisheries management organizations, in order to ensure that only legally harvested and reported fish landings can be traded and sold in the domestic or international markets. The principal objective of product certification (and catch documentation) is to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in accordance with the 2001 FAO International Plan of Action. Product certification does not necessarily involve a product label at the retail level. Where product certification comes with a label to inform consumers, however, it can influence consumers’ choices. This technical paper provides information on important institutional features and characteristics of product certification schemes including: the linkage with management objectives; the level of government involvement; their validation procedures; and, in the international context, how they deal with non- participants of regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements. Product labels can be mandatory or voluntary and may refer to different kinds of product characteristics or attributes including the product’s composition or contents, product quality or form, as well as environmental or social aspects of the product’s production process or method. The focus in this publication is on voluntary product labelling that conveys environmental information to consumers. The principal objective of an ecolabelling scheme is to create a market-based incentive for better management of fisheries by creating consumer demand for seafood products from well-managed stocks. This technical paper provides information on the theoretical foundation, institutional arrangements and relationship with international trade law of ecolabelling programmes for fish and fishery products. It also discusses trade access concerns with ecolabelling programmes and examines their operational features including certification criteria, certification costs and chain of custody.