Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Oceanography


Biological Oceanography



First Advisor

Jeremy Collie


Recent reports suggest that many of the world's commercial fisheries are overfished, and therefore require rebuilding. Ecolabels have been introduced as a potential method to mitigate this chronic misuse of natural resources. These labels are intended to indicate to consumers that a product is sustainable. Assuming consumers value the ecolabel, their business provides a market benefit to fishermen in exchange for the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks. Though some fisheries ecolabels have been in operation for over a decade, little research has been done to examine their measurable benefits, economic or ecological. Here, we analyze the ecological effects of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel on six exploited fish taxa, represented by 41 separate stocks. Within each taxon, we use a case-control design to compare trends in stock status (standardized spawning stock biomass and fishing mortality rates) between similar certified and uncertified fish stocks in the 8-10 year period surrounding certification. Certified stocks of only one taxon showed significantly greater improvements in stock status than uncertified stocks. In the other taxa, there was no detectable difference, or the certified stocks showed significantly more negative trends in status than the uncertified stocks. In a combined metaanalysis, certified stocks were found to be decreasing in stock status, while uncertified stocks increased, indicating that MSC ecolabels may not be actively improving the stock status of their fisheries.



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