THE Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) last night said it has withdrawn the use of the MSC logo and disassociated the MSC from WWF's 'Stinky Fish' campaign.
The MSC also said it regrets and apologises for any offence given by the campaign "to all those partners and colleagues in the seafood industry who work extremely hard to ensure sustainable and legal fishing that results in high quality seafood products in the market."
An international row broke out after WWF - one of the founders of the MSC - unveiled its new sustainable seafood campaign last Thursday. The environmental organisation said it launched the 'Stinky Fish' website "to encourage more shoppers to make the right choices when it comes to fish".
The website featured a video in which a puppet questioned members of the public as to how the seafood they eat was caught. The video clip concluded with the puppet telling viewers to look for the Marine Stewardship Council label when they are buying seafood. "Everything else is stinky!" it stated.
Yesterday, WWF was accused by UK statutory seafood body, Seafish of using "misleading, inaccurate and out of date information".
The NGO was also heavily criticised by the trade body Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) for "confusing, rather than educating" consumers.
Meanwhile, aquaculture certification body Friend of the Sea also spoke out against the campaign, demanding "respect for retailers, seafood industry, fisheries, aquaculture producers and for other certification schemes".
Last night, the MSC moved to disassociate itself from the campaign, stating that it was "conceived, developed and owned by WWF" and that the MSC did not provide any financial support to the campaign.
"The premise of this WWF campaign was that, while the seafood industry and retailers have already made great strides towards embracing
sustainability, consumers - particularly young consumers - do not know
much about the solutions the industry is backing," the MSC said.
"The campaign sought to use humour, irreverence, and satire to appeal to the online audience and get across a very important message in an engaging way. This approach is typical of successful 'viral marketing' campaigns that are fun and quirky enough to cut through the plethora of messages out there and get passed around amongst target audience e-communities."
While MSC staff were consulted during production, and believed the video could be useful in raising awareness and support for sustainable fisheries among audiences not usually reached through traditional communications, they did not foresee the negative reaction that the video and the main character would engender with its partners and colleagues in the seafood industry, the statement continued.
The MSC said that it has taken the following actions:
* It has withdrawn the use of the MSC logo and disassociated the MSC from the Stinky Fish campaign;
* It has communicated these concerns to WWF and requested that it takes immediate action to address them;
* It has removed any reference to it from its website and communications;
* It has alerted all MSC stakeholders to this position.
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