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"Green Label" for Ross Sea Toothfish Condemned

Scientists and Environmental Groups Condemn

Proposed MSC "Green Label" for Ross Sea Toothfish


Washington, DC - November 27, 2009. Scientists and environmental groups this week criticized the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for its proposed certification of Ross Sea Antarctic toothfish.

The certification is being recommended by UK-based Moody Marine, [i] the organization chosen by the Ross Sea fishers and accepted by the MSC. Its report ignores the written arguments of 40 marine scientists from seven nations who have worked in the Ross Sea for decades, [ii] as well as several ASOC member organizations. [iii]

The Ross Sea Toothfish fishery is 'exploratory' under CCAMLR [iv] rules due to the lack of scientific data and a reliable stock assessment," said David Ainley, a marine scientist who has been studying the Ross Sea for 35 years for the US Antarctic program.

There is great uncertainly about the toothfish population and its biology. It is completely inappropriate for the MSC to consider certifying this fishery, said Dr. Sidney Holt, an independent expert on fish population dynamics.

Last year, an independent analysis of human impacts on the world's oceans published in the journal Science classified the Ross Sea as the least affected oceanic ecosystem remaining on Earth. [v] "Awarding Antarctic toothfish the MSC seal of approval will stimulate demand and dupe the public. The Ross Sea is a world treasure that must be protected," said Karli Thomas, Greenpeace oceans campaigner.

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"Certification of the Ross Sea toothfish fishery ignores the very inexact science surrounding the fishery, including the age at which fish are fully mature and how often they breed. It flies in the face of public opinion and the wish to see one of the very few intact ocean ecosystems on Earth - the Ross Sea - fully protected as a marine reserve," said Jim Barnes, ASOC Executive Director. “Moody Marine's analysis is shocking. [vi]

Mr. Barnes said the groups are considering appealing the certification to Moody Marine. It must be filed by December 11 under MSC rules. Appeals require an
organization to pay a substantial fee based on the size of its budget.


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