To mark the launch, the MSC held its first ever Technical Advisory Board (TAB) meeting in Asia to discuss critical issues pertaining to sustainable seafood. Scientific advisors to MSC, Dr Keith Sainsbury and Dr Chris Zimmerman, presented some of the critical scientific concepts underpinning the programme and standards.
"Fishery certification to the MSC standard is having positive environmental outcomes for fish stocks and marine ecosystems worldwide, by providing economic incentives for measurable improvements in fishery management." said Dr Zimmerman. "More and more businesses, at every stage of the seafood supply chain, are choosing to source from MSC certified fisheries, and to communicate that commitment by using the blue MSC ecolabel on their products. Our goal now is to support the growth of the global sustainable seafood market by engaging with every link in the supply chain, from fishery to final consumer, in the critical markets of Asia."
The new MSC Asia office is headed by regional director, Mr Kelvin Ng. An engineer by training with a strong love for the sea and cooking, Kelvin spent the bulk of his corporate life in engineering (Hewlett Packard and 3Com Technologies), supply chain management (DHL-Exel Supply Chain) and FMCG retail (Yum! Brands, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell). This has given him a strong commercial background and regional experience to strategically develop the MSC programme in Asia.
Raising consumer awareness
A critical strategy for MSC Asia is to raise consumer awareness of the importance of sustainable seafood and increase the number of MSC certified products, by more than five-fold in the next five years. It also aims to have more fisheries in the region certified. This will include pushing the Chain of Custody (COC) programme where each company in the supply chain must get certified by an independent, third party certifier in order for the end product to display the distinctive MSC blue ecolabel.
"Nations in Asia are rapidly becoming wealthier and the populous middle class are increasingly aware of sustainability and responsible consumerism, especially in Hong Kong and Singapore. We have already witnessed an uptake of labelled products in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and many seafood processors in China are already certified for MSC Chain of Custody. However, this is a vast and fast developing region and there are many more opportunities for further growth," said Mr Ng.
Besides MSCs TAB members, the launch was attended by commercial partners, representatives from local and international government agencies, friends from the NGO (Non-governmental organization) sector as well as the media. Guests were treated to a lion dance performance, along with the gastronomic delights of MSC certified seafood from regional supplier Golden Fresh, prepared by Chef Andrew Wright, a Pacific West culinary consultant.
"Now that we have the right resources and supply engaged in the programme, we plan to use Singapore as a hub to engage with the rest of Asia. We are confident that, with the help of fisheries, processors, retailers, restaurants and environmental NGOs, before long this region will have many more fisheries engaged and a high penetration of MSC labelled products in the market", commented Mr Ng.