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Media representations of seafood certification in Australia: mobilising sustainability standards to attack or defend the value of an industry

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 17:25 authored by Haas, B, Phillipov, M, Frederick GaleFrederick Gale
Certification schemes respond to increasing environmental and social concerns about sustainability by encouraging consumer demand for ‘sustainable’ products. Such schemes have been a focus of much media coverage and the seafood sector is no exception with many seafood sustainability issues, including those related to both fisheries and aquaculture management, being widely reported on. This paper analyses how the certification schemes of the two best-known seafood sustainability standards organizations, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification, were presented in news media coverage during a period of conflict surrounding the sustainable production and management of seafood in Australia. Employing a content analysis of Australian online and print news media published between 2015 and 2018, we find that the MSC label was used to highlight the sustainability of fisheries all around Australia, while the ASC label was mainly used in the context of the Tasmanian salmon aquaculture industry, with both labels presented as ‘gold standards’. While we also find that ASC certification was used by ENGOs to attack the Tasmanian salmon industry and to question the validity of the ASC label, our data highlight that ASC and MSC certification was primarily used by industry as a tool to demonstrate its sustainability credentials, with the specifics of the certification schemes themselves receiving very little media attention.


Publication title

Marine Policy



Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Elsevier Sci Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox5 1Gb

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 Elsevier Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Fisheries - aquaculture not elsewhere classified

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