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Free Content Ecocertification: An Incentive for Dealing Effectively with Uncertainty, Risk, and Burden of Proof in Fisheries

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Large uncertainties that prevail in fisheries create widely recognized biological, economic, and social risks. These risks have spurred development of various methods for dealing with uncertainties, including the 'Precautionary Approach' of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). However, management agencies still need to implement such approaches more widely, and harvesters must comply more fully with regulations in order to reduce implementation error (the difference between desired and actual consequences of management regulations). Perhaps one way to meet these needs is to establish criteria for ecocertifying specific fisheries, i.e., those in which both management and harvesting practices are expected to maintain biologically and economically productive fish stocks over the long term. Consumers' preferences for ecolabeled products would help align industry's goals with those of management agencies. The threat of losing certification would create incentives for appropriate levels of precaution in agencies' regulations and industry's compliance with them. Ecolabeling initiatives will be aided by recent developments in 'sustainability indicators' and scientifically rigorous performance measures for evaluating them. Particular types of ecolabeling (e.g., voluntary certification combined with consumer education programs) may create appropriate incentives for agencies and industry while avoiding negative reactions by the World Trade Organization to the resulting changes in trade.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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