Japan’s marine eco-label likely to be made international standard

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - Marine Eco-Label Japan (MEL) - Japan’s certification system for protecting marine resources, is expected to be approved as an international standard by the end of this year.

Japan’s certification system for protecting marine resources, called Marine Eco-Label Japan (MEL), is expected to be approved as an international standard by the end of this year, government sources said.
 With eco-conscious Western nations in mind, Japan hopes to promote its efforts to show consideration for the Earth, thus boosting exports of domestic fishery products.
 Established by the Japan Fisheries Association in 2007, MEL is a certification system aimed at maintaining the sound operations of the fisheries industry. Certified merchants can attach labels to their products to differentiate themselves from others.
 There are about 20 to 40 criteria for assessment depending on the type of operator, such as fishers, aquafarm operators, distributors and processors. They include whether the operator has introduced such measures as an adequate resource management plan to prevent overfishing; a framework to prevent environmental poisoning by reducing the amount of food and drugs given to farmed fish; and a management structure to prevent certified fishery products from being mixed with other products. 
 As of October, a total of 23 organizations had been certified in Japan.
 Europe and the United States have a high awareness of fishery resources and environmental protection. Major retailers Walmart of the United States and Metro of Germany only sell fishery products that meet the criteria for certification approved by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative, or GSSI, an international organization based in the Netherlands.
 The Marine Eco-Label Japan Council, the operator of MEL, therefore applied to GSSI in September last year in the hope that domestic seafood exports would gain momentum if MEL was approved by the GSSI.
 The GSSI will hold a board meeting later this year to finalize its screening of MEL. If approved, MEL will be the ninth such standard in the world and the first in Asia.
 According to the Fisheries Agency, exports of the nation’s fishery products totaled ¥303.1 billion in 2018. By country and region, Hong Kong was No. 1 with ¥89.4 billion, followed by China with ¥48.2 billion and the United States with ¥33.3 billion. Exports to EU member countries only stood at ¥6.5 billion.
 The Japanese government believes that GSSI’s approval of MEL will boost its efforts to expand exports of domestic fishery products.