Marine Stewardship Council

By Sonya Grier, Susan Masserang, Jonathan Tinter
2000 | Case No. M297
In April 1999, John Gummer, chairman of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an independent, global non-profit organization, was charged with implementing an eco-labeling program for seafood products harvested in a sustainable manner. Through the program, MSC hoped to harness consumer purchasing power and thereby reverse the decline in the world’s fisheries. The case describes traditional approaches to environmental problems and recent innovative strategies, provides examples of eco-labeling for a variety of products, and explores consumer attitudes toward the environment and consumer purchase behavior. Recent crises, the dolphin-safe tuna controversy and the swordfish boycott, provide evidence of the level of public interest which MSC’s broad eco-labeling plan could tap into in the council’s effort to reverse the decline in the world’s fisheries. Because both of the earlier campaigns were tangible and focused on specific issues, it wasn’t clear to Gummer that consumers would respond the same way to a more general label applied to all seafood products. Gummer wonders how the council could get customers to start shopping for labeled products and how the MSC should approach industry to get seafood producers, processors, and retailers all on board.
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