In fisheries, sustainability refers to the concept of harvesting at a level that can be maintained indefinitely. In other words, the targeted species and its surrounding environment can withstand that level of fishing without experiencing population collapse or ecosystem destruction at any time. Within the last few decades, there has been an increasing awareness of the effects of fishing on the oceans and as a result, a consumer-driven effort to support fisheries that use sustainable fishing practices has emerged. As a result, several "eco-labels" have emerged to certify which wild-caught fisheries are most sustainable.
The most common eco-label used in Atlantic Canadian fisheries is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label. MSC conducts an extensive evaluation process of the fishery in question, focusing on three principles: sustainable harvesting levels, minimal environmental impact, and effective management. In Atlantic Canada there are 18 fisheries currently certified by MSC for sustainability, and five are being evaluated. In addition, MSC certifies the chain of custody to trace an MSC-certified fish from vessel to plate. This chain of custody process ensures that only fish from an MSC-certified fishery receive this eco-label. At this time, TriNav Seafood Brokerage is not certified for chain of custody.
Although MSC is one of the most well-known eco-labels, other popular assessments include:
Friends of the Sea - Certifies sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices and provides a label for products. Operated by Earth Island Institute. This label is popular in the European Union.
SeaChoice - A Canadian seafood guide produced by Sustainable Seafood Canada; a coalition of environmental non-governmental organizations. This program produces consumer guides rather than a marketable label and partners with Seafood Watch using a green, yellow and red scale to indicate the sustainability of the fishery.
Seafood Watch - Produces sustainable seafood advisory lists, rather than an eco-label for the consumer products. Uses a sliding scale of green, yellow and red to indicate the level of sustainability of the fishery. Produced by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Aquaculture Stewardship Council - Similar to MSC, the ASC certifies and labels sustainably-produced aquaculture. It was founded by the World Wildlife Fund and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative.