Professor Keith Sainsbury voiced his hope the eco-label scheme grows in the continent. (Photo: IMR/Stock File/FIS)
MSC sets up Asian headquarters
Wednesday, October 31, 2012, 04:20 (GMT + 9)
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) launched its new Asian headquarters in Singapore this week. The organisation held an opening ceremony for its new office to commence a five-year plan for the growth of its eco-label scheme in the continent.
“Now is the time to do what we’ve always wanted to do, which is to expand into Asia,” said vice chair of the MSC board of trustees Professor Keith Sainsbury.
The number of certified products in Asia is growing at about 5 per cent each year, so the region is already showing signs that the MSC’s involvement there is a promising move, the professor added.
“If we can’t make (the sustainable fish certification scheme) work in Asia, the future doesn’t look good,” said Sainsbury, referring to fisheries on the verge of depletion, Eco-Business reports.
The 10-year-old MSC has thus far focused mainly on European industries and markets.
So far, there are nearly 300 fisheries around the world that have been certified by MSC or are undergoing assessment. Collectively they produce over 11 per cent or almost 10 million tonnes of the world’s seafood.
While currently only 16 per cent of the companies with chain of command certification are in Asia, this may change as MSC targets a five-fold increase in the number of its labelled products and a considerable rise in the amount of certified industries in the region.
Sainsbury stated that the biggest challenge would be getting consumers and companies used to the concept of certification, but he believes the region is ready because consumers, and Chinese buyers in particular, are voicing concern regarding the source and safety of their seafood.
MSC’s regional director for Asia, Kelvin Ng, commented that Singapore is a great location for the organisation’s regional office, despite having no fisheries of its own, because it is home to numerous multi-national corporations related to the sector, including Malaysia-based Golden Fresh, which supplies seafood to local grocery chains Cold Storage and Fairprice under its Pacific West brand.
Golden Fresh chief executive Earn Saw said that at this point, he has not seen many other businesses from the fisheries industry that are actively pursuing eco-labelling. He said more education was needed to make progress and that his firm promotes awareness of sustainable fishing – particularly among younger generations – by hosting road shows and setting up supermarket displays.
According to Sainsbury, as eco awareness grows among consumers, the companies that follow the MSC eco-labelling and certification scheme should expect to see greater rewards, such as improved access to markets, price premiums and reputations as responsible companies.
“Then, MSC will be in a position to reward fisheries that are doing it right,” he added.
By Natalia Real