California Sustainable Seafood Initiative
Assembly Bill 1217 (Monning, 2009), requires the Ocean Protection Council to develop and implement a voluntary seafood promotion program for California fisheries. The intent of AB 1217 is to encourage California fisheries to seek certification in accordance with internationally accepted standards for sustainability and to promote the purchase and consumption of certified sustainable California seafood.
The statute directs the Council to: 1) develop a protocol to guide entities on how to be independently certified to internationally accepted standards for sustainable seafood; 2) implement a marketing assistance program for such seafood in cooperation with the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA); 3) develop a competitive grant and loan program to help fisheries become certified as sustainable when funded by the legislature; and 4) design a label or labels that may be used exclusively to identify seafood caught in California.
The statute stipulates that the protocol is to be developed in a transparent process and adopted by the Council in a public meeting. In addition, the Council will need to identify in a public document that the standards developed meet or exceed the Guidelines for the Eco-labeling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries promulgated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It is not envisioned that the OPC or staff will certify fisheries in California; rather the purpose will be to guide entities on how to become certified as sustainable through existing organizations.
OPC Actions to Date
At its March 3, 2010 OPC meeting, the OPC approved a recommendation to appoint a public advisory board to assist the staff of the OPC in implementation of AB 1217. The Panel Members represent state or federal fishery management agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the commercial fishing industry, fish processors, fish retailers or traders, restaurateurs, public health/nutrition officials, fishing port officials, and the scientific community.
At its November 29, 2010 meeting, the OPC took public comment on a draft protocol and opened a public comment period through January 18, 2011.
At its May 12, 2011 meeting, the OPC discussed a revised draft protocol.
At its December 16, 2011 meeting, the OPC adopted the California Voluntary Sustainable Seafood Program protocol.
- AB 1217 (Monning, 2009): Statute directing the OPC to implement a sustainable seafood program
- March 3, 2010 OPC Meeting: staff recommendation (and accompanying support letters) appointing Advisory Panel members
- Advisory Panel Charter
- November 29, 2010 OPC Meeting: DRAFT Protocol – Open for public comment until January 18, 2011
- May 12, 2011 OPC Meeting: DRAFT Protocol: executive summary or detailed staff report
- December 16, 2011 OPC Meeting:
- Staff Recommendation
- Exhibit 1: Assembly Bill 1217 (Monning, 2009)
- Exhibit 2: California Voluntary Sustainable Seafood Program Protocol
- Exhibit 3: Advisory Panel Roster
Public Comment on Draft Protocol
- David Anderson: Certification and Labeling of Capture Fisheries Products in California – Addedum to the report
- Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara (CFSB): Comments on draft protocol
- Environmental Defense Fund: Comments on draft protocol
- Monterey Bay Aquarium: Comments on draft protocol
- Food and Water Watch: Comments on draft protocol
- Heal The Bay: Comments on draft protocol
- Marine Stewardship Council (MSC): Comments on draft protocol and attached articles (Nature - September, 2010 and Nature - October 2010)
- Marine Stewardship Council (MSC): Comments on David Andersons’ draft alternative
- Turtle Island Restoration Network, San Francisco Bay Keeper, Environment California, GotMercury.org, Ocean Conservation, Pacific Environment, Salmon protection and watershed, Tataki Sushi Bar and Tataki South: Comments on draft protocol
- Oceana: Comments on draft protocol
- Food and Water Watch online petition
Advisory Panel Meetings
- April 4, 2012 – Teleconference
- March 15, 2011
Cal EPA Building – Sierra Hearing Room
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
- October 13-14, 2010
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
7700 Sandholdt Road
Moss Landing, California 95039-9644
- Meeting Summary
- August 2-3, 2010: Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP)
3535 Harbor Blvd., Suite 110
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
– meeting materials
- - Meeting Summary
- May 13, 2010: Elihu M. Harris State Building
1515 Clay Street, Room 15
Oakland, CA 94612
– CSSI Agenda – May 13, 2010
– Meeting summary
* The meetings will be open to the public and will provide opportunity for public comment.
Examples of State or Country specific eco-labeling certification schemes:
- Gulf of Maine – Sustainable Seafood Initiative Website
- Gulf of Maine Branding Standard draft report
- Iceland – Responsible Fisheries Management Specification, Draft Report
- Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute Website
Marketing Program – Background Information and Recommendations:
- Promoting California’s Sustainable Seafood: Recommendations for a Marketing Assistance Program to Support the California Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Phillips, C., Master’s Thesis report, UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, May 2012).
- MSC Consistency with FAO Guidelines
- FAO eco-labeling guidelines
- FAO Fisheries Service Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
- Summary of the FAO Code of Conduct:
- Understanding Fisheries Management
- MSC Fishery Standards – Principals and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing
- MSC Get Certified
- MSC Fisheries Assessment Methodology
- MSC ‘Net Benefits’ Report
- WWF Full report: Assessment of on-pack, wild capture seafood sustainability certification programs and seafood ecolabels