Focus on MSC as Alvin's Guide to Good Business goes to Japan

February 26, 2010 16:08

The transformation of the world's seafood markets to a sustainable basis by the fisheries, processors and retailers engaged in the MSC certification programme  is the subject of the latest film in Alvin Hall's series about social entrepreneurs, reports with reference to MSC.

The film, made by Rockhopper TV in partnership with the Skoll Foundation for the BBC, will be broadcast to global audiences of 280 million in over 200 countries on BBC World News on Saturday 27 February and can be viewed on the Skoll and MSC web sites from Friday 26 February
Sustainable sole in Hastings

Alvin begins his voyage of discovery in Hastings in the UK, learning about the principles of sustainable fishing from Paul Joy of the MSC certified Hastings Dover sole fishery and MSC Chief Executive, Rupert Howes. The next challenge for the MSC, he learns, is to become big in Japan, one of the world's most important consumer markets for seafood. Will the business model that has worked so well in European and American markets bring MSC certified sustainable seafood to the attention of Japanese consumers?
Getting consumers and retailers on board

Rupert Howes said:  ‘In Europe, America and next, we hope, in Asia, the MSC has helped certified fisheries find new markets by working in partnership with major food brands, retailers and restaurants to bring sustainable seafood to shopping trolleys and plates. Our aim is to create market-based incentives for other fisheries to improve their performance in order to meet our rigorous, science-based standard.  It was fascinating to meet Alvin and find that his proposed strategy for growth - joint-marketing with retailers to increase consumer awareness of the blue MSC ecolabel - dovetailed completely with our own.'

Alvin Hall said, ‘Consumers are the key to the continuing success and growth of the MSC programme. When consumers start looking out for the blue ecolabel and asking retailers to stock certified sustainable fish, then the efforts of fishers will be rewarded with higher sales and new markets. And that means stable livelihoods for fishers and healthy oceans teeming with fish for future generations.'
Sustainable skipjack tuna - a Japanese tradition

In Japan, Alvin meets Mr Hiroyuki Myojin in a small coastal town close to Mount Fuji. Myojin-san is President of Tosakatsuo Suisan Co. Ltd, which, in November 2009, became the world's first skipjack tuna fishery to achieve the MSC certificate for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

Myojin-san said, ‘We were immensely proud to demonstrate through independent verification that our skipjack tuna pole and line fishery, which has been developed by Japanese fishermen for centuries, is indeed a sustainable fishing tradition. With our certification we hope to save Japan's proud tradition of skipjack tuna pole and line fishing from extinction and preserve it for generations to come. Already, the MSC certification has generated enquiries from overseas markets. With the help of the MSC, we will make our fishery shine again.'
MSC goes big in Japan with Aeon

When Alvin meets Rupert in Japan, it's at the Eco consumer fair in Tokyo and Rupert shows Alvin how Aeon, the largest supermarket chain in Japan, is showcasing MSC labelled products on their stand and has committed to a joint-marketing programme with the MSC to promote MSC certified seafood products from around the world.

Rupert said, ‘Food is so much more than just sustenance or business - it's about culture, tradition, personal and communal memory. Here in Japan, where seafood is eaten three times a day and people tell you that they literally could not live without fish, you really experience the truth of that. By working with Aeon and other retailers here, we've managed to increase the number of MSC -labelled products to over 180 from zero in under  three years, and consumer recognition of our label is now almost at European levels.  I think that shows that markets will reward those fishers and businesses that have the foresight and leadership to put sustainability at the heart of their business.'

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