Blue ticked off: the controversy over the MSC fish ‘ecolabel’

Blue ticked off: the controversy over the MSC fish ‘ecolabel’

The MSC’s coveted blue tick is the world’s biggest, and some say best, fishery ecolabel. So why is it in the headlines – and does it really do what it says on the tin?

This month, two right whales in the Gulf of St Lawrence were found entangled in fishing gear. One, a female, was first spotted entangled off Cape Cod last year, but rescuers were not able to fully free her; the other, a male, is believed to have become entangled in the Gulf.

Hunted to near extinction before a partial whaling ban in 1935, North Atlantic right whales are once more critically endangered, with only 356 left. The main threat remains human contact: entanglement in fishing gear, and ship strikes. Fatal encounters, caused in part by the whales’ migratory shift into Canada’s snow crab grounds, have soared: more than a tenth of the population died or were seriously injured between 2017 and 2021, mostly in Canada and New England.

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