TIRN went face-to-face with the certifiers and the fishery client that want to label the Florida longline fishery for swordfish as "sustainable" at a courtroom-like hearing in a hotel room near San Francisco on Friday, November 18. The fact that we were meeting in San Bruno, site of the natural gas blast disaster was haunting. Here, after two years opposing the eco-labeling of this turtle-deadly fishery, was the last chance to defend our objection and seek justice for the sea turtles! Download our lengthy comments below.
In summary, while we did our best, and spent many late nights writing comments and preparing for our day in court, it seems that Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification is a done deal. The Independent Adjudicator or "judge" was professional but seemed sympathetic to the MSC, the fishery client and the certification body. Clearly we were outgunned!
I really appreciated engaging the fisherman Scott Taylor and his crew from Day Boat Seafood, who truly want to fish without harming sea turtles. He felt himself tangled in the web of the MSC certification process, which is long, costly and complicated. I agree that he is caught in the middle between ocean conservationists who want the MSC to set a high bar for sustainability and the certifier who wants him to document every fishery practice.
Ultimately, TIRN wishes Day Boat Seafood well, but not the eco-certification of a longline fishery that harms loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles. It will set a dangerous precedent for all other U.S. fisheries to get certified and encourage the continuation of wasteful fishing.
We may not be able to beat the MSC at its own game, but we can say simply this: Longline fishing for swordfish is not sustainable for sea turtles and we won't buy it!