Transnational Environmental Governance

Transnational Environmental Governance

The Emergence and Effects of the Certification of Forests and Fisheries

Lars H. Gulbrandsen

In recent years a wide range of non-state certification programs have emerged to address environmental and social problems associated with the extraction of natural resources. This book provides a general analytical framework for assessing the emergence and effectiveness of voluntary certification programs. It focuses on certification in the forest and fisheries sectors, as initiatives in these sectors are among the most advanced cases of non-state standard setting and governance in the environmental realm.

Chapter 6: Spillover to the Fisheries Sector: The Marine Stewardship Council

Lars H. Gulbrandsen

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, environment, corporate social responsibility, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy


This chapter examines how the certification model was exported from the forest sector to the fisheries sector, detailing the origins and evolution of MSC – the first and only global certification program for wild-capture fisheries. More than any other certification initiative, the creation of MSC was inspired by FSC’s success in the forest sector. Particular attention is paid to the influence of choices of program features on the development of the program. The chapter demonstrates that although MSC mimicked FSC, the initiators of the program purposefully avoided three of FSC’s key features: (1) they decided against an open-membership organization; (2) they chose to avoid delegating authority to make a global standard locally appropriate to national affiliates; (3) they decided not to address social issues in the principles and criteria of the program. These decisions were pivotal for the type of debates that emerged about fisheries certification and the subsequent development of MSC. The chapter begins with a brief review of challenges to fisheries management and the evolution of intergovernmental governance through multilateral and regional fishing agreements. The second section is an examination of the emergence of single-species labels and seafood buyer guides as consumer-based responses to specific environmental or management problems in the fisheries sector. The third section details the formation and features of MSC, including its governance structure, certification standards and certification process. The fourth section examines how governments and certain producers responded to the emergence of MSC, paying particular attention to the development of international guidelines for eco-labeling. In...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information