Origins and design The MSC was not the first fisheries certification or labelling initiative. Organic agriculture organizations, such as the Soil Association, released organic aquaculture standards starting in the late 1980s (Tacon and Brister 2002) and a label for ‘dolphin-safe’ tuna also formed around this time (Brown 2005). It was not until the mid-1990s that MSC formed as a collaborative project between the WWF and Unilever. At the time, the WWF was beginning an oceans campaign with the aim of advancing marine protection and appropriate fisheries management; this served to solidify its interest in fisheries certification (Flanders 1998). Unilever, for its part, was confronting two challenges. First, following the cod stock collapse off the Newfoundland coast, the company sought scientific advice on the stability of North Sea stocks for fear that its fish supplies might be threatened (Hamprecht 2005: 100). Second, like WWF, Greenpeace was mounting an ocean campaign focused on industrial fishing of sandeel in the North Sea, which supplied fish meal and oil used for animal feed and some food products. Heavy extraction of these fish depleted a key food source for ocean species, such as seals and sea birds. Greenpeace targeted a number of companies, including Unilever, requesting that they stop selling products containing, or derived from, fish oil (Auld 2009). With WWF focusing on ocean conservation and Unilever facing pressure to address fishing practices, communications between them identified their shared interest in fisheries sustainability and led to the formal launch of the MSC in early 1996 (Hamprecht 2005; Murphy and Bendell 1997: 170). Although they had different reasons for championing the initiative, both were eager to explore how a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-type programme might work for fisheries (Burgmans 2003; Sutton 1996).

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Auld, G. (2013). The Marine Stewardship Council. In Business Regulation and Non-State Actors. London: Routledge, 2012, Edited by Reed, A. M., Reed, D. , Utting, P.. doi:10.4324/9780203126929