11 May 2020
The MSC’s misleading response to BLOOM’s transparency
11 May 2020
Claiming to “provide clarifications” regarding the publication of BLOOM’s scientific study on the sham of the MSC label (Marine Stewardship Council), co-authored by researchers from the universities of New York (United States) and Dalhousie (Canada ) and published in the renowned scientific journal PLOS ONE, the MSC justifies its imposture by… a new imposture: that of implying that our results, which demonstrate that 83% of the MSC-certified catches come from large-scale, high-impact fishing, are solely based on the analysis of “a corpus of photographs and communication media” and therefore that our assertions are “wholly untrue”.
Incompetence or cynicism?
However, it would have been enough for the MSC to read the methodology of our study or its summary in our advocacy document to understand — without any ambiguity — that the analysis of the photographs and communication media was only a small part of our study. The MSC’s assertion could not be further from the truth, and therefore exposes either their incompetence or their absolute cynicism. This is extremely worrying for a structure which defines itself as a “scientific NGO” a few lines below, and which already certifies 15 % of the world’s catch and aims to certify 30% by 2030.
As we explained in our scientific article3 and its summary,4 our results on the origin of the MSC-certified catches are not based on a single image. They are exclusively based on the exhaustive analysis of around 500 evaluation reports, all available on the MSC’s website. From these reports — produced by the certifying firms such as Lloyd’s Register or Bureau Veritas — we extracted some 27,500 lines of monthly catch data (available online), by fishing gear and length of vessels — the two parameters we used to characterize the MSC-certified fisheries. It is these data that enabled us to demonstrate that 83% of MSC-certified catches come from large vessels (over 12-meter long, often 40, 60 or 80 and up to 144-meter long!) and using gear high-impact, ‘active’ fishing gears such as bottom trawls and dredges.
Our analysis of the “corpus of photographs and communication media”, that is to say the 400 or so photographs that we also studied, led us to quantify the gap between the MSC’s communication and the reality of its certifications. Indeed, small-scale coastal fishing — using low-impact gears such as lines and traps, on vessels less small that 12 meters long — represents almost half of the images used by the MSC in its communications, while it only represents 7% of certified catches. Almost 6.5 times less. Conversely, large-scale, high-impact fishing, which accounts for 83% of the MSC-certified catches, only accounts for 32% of the photographs used by the MSC.
Doubt: the industrial lobbies’ favorite tool
Unable to refute our results and, as usual, refusing the slightest criticism, the MSC does not question its model and instead opts for a false communication aimed at instilling doubt — a technique well known to industrial lobbies — about a scientific piece of research that casts light, in an irrefutable way, on the misleading reality of its label.
Notes and references
 See ‘Methodology’ p6: https://www.bloomassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/sham-msc-label.pdf.
 See ‘Merchants of doubt’ by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, available at: https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/merchants-of-doubt-9781608193943/.