MSC: 10 percent of global fisheries now sustainably certified

Published on
October 13, 2015

Around 9 million metric tons (MT) of seafood annually is now certified according to the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC’s) standard for environmentally sustainable fishing, representing almost 10 percent of the total global wild-caught supply and including 45.9 percent of the whitefish catch, according to the MSC’s latest annual report.

The non-profit organization’s 2014-15 annual report, “Celebrating 15 years of certified sustainable seafood,” finds seafood retailers and restaurants today sell over 17,000 products with the MSC eco-label and more than 34,000 business locations are part of the MSC Chain of Custody.

It also estimates consumers spent USD 4.5 billion (EUR 4 billion) on MSC-labeled products in 2014-15.

“This growth and momentum, through the leadership of our partners, is driving lasting change in the way our oceans are fished, rewarding good practice and catalyzing improvements where needed to meet the growing global demand for certified sustainable seafood,” said Rupert Howes, CEO of MSC.

The MSC has marked its 15th year by updating its Fisheries Standard to ensure it reflects the latest science and best management practices widely adopted by leading fisheries. A growing evidence base, captured in the MSC’s “2015 Global Impacts Report,” also shows that MSC-certified fisheries are maintaining healthy fish populations and effectively managing their impacts on habitats and ecosystems.

“The MSC is a learning organization and we’ve invested heavily in strengthening the rigor of our program and building our evidence base on how our partners are delivering positive outcomes for our oceans,” said Howes.

On the market side, the report acknowledges the recent global commitment by IKEA to only sell and serve certified sustainable seafood throughout its 370-plus stores, and the Iglo Group’s 100 percent sustainable fish commitment. This year also marked the MSC’s arrival in South Korea, thanks to seafood processor Hansung and Lotte Mart, the country’s largest retailer.

“Market demand for sustainable seafood is helping to drive positive change in how our oceans are fished and managed. As more retailers and processors choose MSC-certified seafood, other fisheries are encouraged into MSC assessment to meet the opportunities that higher demand for sustainable seafood can deliver,” said Howes.

In 2014-15, 40 new fisheries achieved MSC certification and over 70 entered full assessment.

The report highlights two pioneers, the first certified fisheries in India and China – the Ashtamudi clam and Zoneco scallop fisheries. Around 1,000 people depend on the Kerala-based clam fishery for their livelihoods, while the Chinese scallop fishery employs more than 20,000 fishers through a cooperative, and covers more than 500,000 hectares of the North Yellow Sea.

Two decades on from the collapse of the Grand Banks cod fishery in Newfoundland, the report also highlights the commitments of fisheries in the northern hemisphere, which are helping ensure the ongoing productivity of northern waters: 97 percent of Canadian Atlantic lobster is now MSC certified; 87 percent of Alaska’s fisheries, by volume, are MSC certified; and the Iceland Sustainable Fisheries group is seeking MSC certification for all its commercial fisheries.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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