MSC and WWF campaign creating a stink
An animated fish puppet emerging from an icebox to push the virtues of sustainably caught seafood doesn’t sound like too bad of an idea. But “Stinky Fish” the latest campaign from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), launched last week, is creating quite a stir in the industry.
The brainchild of WWF’s International Marine Programme, “Stinky Fish” is the star of his own video on the WWF website, on Facebook and You Tube. He emerges unexpectedly from his icebox to yell at shop-owners and restauranteurs on where their fish came from and tell diners and shoppers to avoid “stinky fish” – i.e. those that do not carry the the ecolabel of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea, pointed out to Aquafeed.com: “ This must therefore include also any other sustainable or organic certified seafood!”
Among the Q&A in the Stinky Fish WWF website is:
“Is farmed fish better for the ocean than wild caught? Very often, farmed fish are NOT a good idea, as they are fed on fish meal made from other fish. Cannibals they be!! In other words, fish farming can be used to conceal unsustainable fishing practices in the wild. Farmed fish can also be more vulnerable to disease; sometimes large quantities of antibiotics are pumped into the water in fish farms.”
Friend of the Sea has distanced itself from WWF's “stinky’ campaign:
“Friend of the Sea wishes to clearly distance itself from WWF’s MSC promotion campaign ‘Stinky Fish’, demanding balanced science-based information for consumers, and respect for retailers, seafood industry, fisheries, aquaculture producers and for other certification schemes.” said Dr Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea
“Friend of the Sea is the only international scheme for both wild-caught and farmed seafood. It is fully compliant with FAO Guidelines and minimum requirements. Friend of the Sea and Companies whose products are Friend of the Sea certified should be respected by WWF and MSC as they are FAO compliant, recognized and respected by retailers and the seafood industry.”
A number of industry media have also reacted strongly to the campaign:
SEAFOOD.COM: “MSC must dissociate itself from 'stinky fish' campaign if it is to maintain ties with industry”,
“any retailer who saw this ad for the MSC logo would want to immediately pull MSC labelled fish from their shelves”,
“they should denounce this ad as a horrible mischaracterization of the industry – and immediately dissociate their name and brand from it”,
“this campaign is the equivalent of the poultry industry creating a cute salmonella bird character, or the beef industry in Britain going on the air with a cartoon character called mad cow”,
“there was always a nagging fear of allowing a third party to control a certification that according to the FAO, must be based on objective standards. The fear was that ideological perspectives would intrude on the process – so that certification would be used to promote an agenda that condemned fishing and seafood processing”,
“No government or industry group will spend money to buy into a logo that is associated with causing deliberate harm to seafood consumption”
INTRAFISH.COM: “Stinky fish a dumb idea.”
“Will the seafood industry smack down the MSC for its collaboration on a promotional video that labels all non-MSC-certified products “stinky fish”?”
“The video is silly, makes personal fun of at least one of the customers, and shows a lack of understanding about the seafood industry and seafood retailers by the two organizations”
“Don’t think the retailers won’t remember the next time the MSC rep makes a call, or the WWF asks them to collaborate in some endeavour or another.”
“This hampers WWF’s attempts to win industry support for its farmed fish standards, and may tip people who were on the fence…”
SEAFOOD INTELLIGENCE: “BIASED STINKY FISH: Does WWF’s promotion of MSC stink? Campaign seems anything but impartial…”
“Sad writing from the WWF which will go nowhere to heighten its profile as one providing 'reliable' seafood information to consumers...”
“Finally let’s note that, so far, nowhere on its website does the MSC mention the WWF Stinky Fish Campaign. Are they too modest? or would they rather distance themselves from such visible (and certainly not ‘independently vetted’ views) campaign promoting itself; or are we talking simply of good old ‘British reserve’?”
View the video for yourself here.
Do you think it will turn consumers and retailers away from farmed fish?
Although WWF has created the Aquaculture Dialogues and is heavily involved in
trying to modify certification standards, some question their unerlying agenda.
What do you think? If you have something to say, join our community and vote in our new poll: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/aquafeed/