Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Three reasons for eco-label failure

The fisheries industry promotes third-party eco-labels that signify sustainability, similar to those used in forestry and tourism (see Nature; 2013). In my view, these fail for three reasons.

First, consumers care strongly that labels for health and quality standards are accurate because they affect individuals, but care much less about eco-labels because their effects are spread across society.

Second, industries tend to use weak eco-labels in political games to avoid strong regulation.

Third, ineffective eco-labels closely mimic accurate ones. Because there are no adverse consequences for consumers who cannot tell them apart, a high proportion of mimics persists.

Eco-labels are thus no substitute for eco-laws.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ralf Buckley.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Buckley, R. Three reasons for eco-label failure. Nature 500, 151 (2013).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing