Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Europe
Brussels, Belgium – “It is deeply disturbing that McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich will soon carry the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label at the fast food chain’s European locations. Filet-O-Fish sandwiches are made from a controversial fish, the New Zealand hoki — a species that we and many experts believe should not have been certified by the MSC to begin with.”
“We have documented in detail the many problems associated with private eco-labeling programs, including the Marine Stewardship Council’s. In particular, we are disappointed that the MSC continues to certify fisheries such as New Zealand hoki — fisheries that have committed to environmental reforms in name only. In fact, the New Zealand hoki fishery has been found to violate the country’s Fisheries Act, which requires adverse effects on the aquatic environment – such as the fishery’s troubled history of deadly interactions with seabirds – be addressed and avoided.
“Despite numerous objections to the hoki’s certification over the past decade – including concerns about seabird and seal deaths associated with the fishery – this fish inexplicably remains certified by MSC. Because of this, it is unlikely that MSC-certified fisheries meet European consumers’ high standards for sustainability.”
“The pressing concern we have with eco-labeling programs is the ‘pay-to-play’ aspect built into certification. Smaller and more sustainable fishing operations often cannot afford to certify, frequently leaving the label accessible only to the largest multinational fishing companies and ‘foodservice operations’ like McDonald’s. An MSC label appearing on a mass-produced fast food item like the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish is an indication that these types of labels may be less focused on sustainability than profits.”
Food & Water Europe is a program of Food & Water Watch, Inc., a non-profit consumer NGO based in Washington, D.C., working to ensure clean water and safe food in Europe and around the world. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.
Eve Mitchell, Food & Water Europe, emitchell(at)fweurope.org, +44 (0)1381 610 740
Darcey Rakestraw, Food & Water Watch, drakestraw(at)fwwatch.org, +1 202-2683-2467
For more information, read our report, De-Coding Seafood Eco-Labels: How the European Commission Can Help Consumers Access Sustainable Seafood and Food & Water Watch’s fact sheet, About the Marie Stewardship Council