I attended the morning session of the workshop on the "Future of Seafood Ecolabelling and Certification." The seafood industry and sustainable seafood NGOs clearly have an interest in making the mainstream consumer more sustainable, but due to the problems of cost and information, a challenge is making sustainability the market norm. I found this promising in that environmental private governance is extremely important (and undervalued in the academy) because sustainable seafood efforts by industry could, at best, be likened to early conservation movements where hunters/businesses were the stewards for natural resources.

The key issues facing sustainable seafood are traceability, responsible fish farming, sustainable fisheries development, and eco-labeling schemes. In her presentation, Meghan Jeans, a Vermont Law School graduate and Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture Programs at New England Aquarium, focused on the challenges of eco-certification/labeling for seafood: clarity, accuracy, transparency, measureability, proliferation of labels. consistency, impacts on water, continuous improvement, and a lack of available product.

I am also interested in learning more about the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative (GSSI) which hopes develop benchmarking tools and provide information on overlapping standards given the proliferation of eco-labels.

For those interested, here were the participants in the panel discussions:

SESSION 1: Where Do We Want to Go? Shaping the Future of Sustainable Seafood Certification
In five years, what will the market need from sustainable seafood certification and how can certification best serve those needs? This session will focus on exploring the different incentives for parties to engage with certification. What do these parties expect to gain from an sustainable seafood certification (assurance, reduce risk, improve environmental practices, market access, better price, proof of doing good), do the motivation and expectations of differ between parties, and does that result in conflict and friction.
Moderator: Melanie Siggs, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership
1. Retailer perspective: Jan Kranghand, MetroGroup
2. Development Perspective: Mark Prein, GIZ
4. NGO perspective: Meghan Jeans, NEAq

SESSION 2: Delivering the Future – How Sustainable Seafood Certification Programs will Adapt to a Changing Seafood Marketplace
This session will provide the audience with an understanding of how these programs are looking at the future and how they will grow and change with a focus on the marketplace.
Moderator: Peter Hajipieris, Seafish
1. Global Aquaculture Alliance – Dan Lee
2. Marine Stewardship Council – Simon Edwards
3. Friend of the Sea – Paolo Bray
4. Aquaculture Stewardship Council – Bas Geerts

SESSION 3: Sorting Out the Future
Speaker: Herman Wisse, Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI)
The GSSI is an exciting and developing concept within the global sustainable seafood movement, aiming to create a level playing field for global seafood certification programmes, through benchmarking existing sustainable seafood certification programs against internationally accepted norms for these programs.
In the formative stages of the GSSI process, Herman Wisse and GSSI have been working with stakeholders to assess the needs and perspectives on sustainable seafood certification. Herman will share some of his findings and discuss where the GSSI process is headed and the interest in the development of the GSSI process