By Cliff White, Executive Editor
Published on Tuesday, October 11, 2016
[Editor’s note: Read SeafoodSource’s exclusive interview with MSC CEO Rupert Howes here]
Nearly 10 percent of seafood caught in the wild in the past 12 months – more than 9.3 million metric tons in total – was certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, according to the organization’s annual report, which it released Wednesday, 12 October.
MSC’s 2015-2016 annual report, “From sustainable fishers to seafood lovers” said MSC-certified catch has increased by six percent since two years ago, while the MSC certified supply chain has climbed 16 percent over the same period. MSC has now certified 296 fisheries in 36 countries, with 38 added to that total in the past 12 months, and another 92 fisheries currently undergoing assessment.
“Accelerated growth in the MSC certified supply chain, and more MSC labeled products, demonstrate a growing demand for traceable, sustainable seafood,” MSC CEO Rupert Howes said in a prepared statement. “More retailers and brands are choosing to use the MSC label to communicate their commitment to sustainability. Their leadership is helping to drive a chain reaction, from ocean to plate. From certified ﬁshers to seafood consumers, everyone plays a vital part in ensuring that our oceans are thriving for generations to come.”
The report highlights the relationships the MSC has formed with major retailers in the past year, including new or extended partnerships with Lidl Germany, Sainsbury’s, Carrefour, Migros, Coles, Aeon and McDonalds. According to the report, the number of processors, restaurants and caterers with MSC chain of custody grew to 3,334 companies in 82 countries from 2,879 in 2014-2015.
“The MSC provides a mechanism that serves to galvanize a diverse community of change-makers which is driving real and lasting impacts on the water. Thanks to our partners whose dedication is contributing to healthy oceans, now and for the future,” Howes said.
In his foreward to the report, Howes said the MSC will focus on small-scale and developing-world fisheries as part of its 2017-2020 strategic plan.
“This will include the development of a formal framework for fisheries ‘in transition to MSC’ certification,” he wrote. “We will also work with our partners to assess how best to provide greater assurance that MSC-certified fisheries and supply chain companies meet internationally accepted norms for labor practices.”
Howes wrote MSC will also focus more on “building consumer awareness, understanding and preference for independently certified sustainable seafood,” building off MSC’s 2016 consumer study that showed that sustainability is a “key driver for seafood purchase, and consumers are prepared to change shopping habits to protect the oceans.”
MSC listed GBP 15,272,126 (USD 18,515,727, EUR 16,753,110) in total income for 2015-2016, with 73 percent of its revenue coming from “charitable activities,” which includes the licensing of its logo. It had total expenditures of GBP 14,446,125 (USD 17,514,294, EUR 15,847,009), with 34 percent going to “commercial and fisheries servicing and outreach,” 30 percent going to “education and awareness,” 25 percent headed to “policy and maintenance of standard.” Nine percent of its expenditures went to logo licensing and two percent was spent on fundraising. The organization reported GBP 21,234,196 (USD 25,742,670, EUR 23,290,360) in total funds as of 31 March 2016, compared with GBP 20,487,111 (USD 24,836,923 , EUR 22,470,933) on 31 March 2015.