Sustainable catch nearly doubles over 5 years, reports MSC

A new report commissioned by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and published in time to celebrate World Oceans Day (observed on 8 June) outlines how effective management and other improvements undergone by MSC-certified fisheries have positively impacted the world’s oceans.

Among the report’s most significant findings was the increase in the volume of global, MSC-certified wild seafood catch, which jumped from 5 percent (4,541 metric tons) in 2010 to 9.4 percent (8,821,221 metric tons) in 2015.

The 2016 Global Impacts Report analyzes the progress made by the 281 fisheries across 33 countries that have achieved MSC certification. At the close of 2015, these 281 fisheries implemented approximately 876 improvements, with more on the way, according to the report.

“The MSC was established nearly 20 years ago to address the problem of unsustainable fishing and safeguard seafood supplies for the future. Our latest report showcases the results of the hard work, innovation and investment made by fisheries to achieve and maintain certification, and the positive change on the water the MSC program helps catalyze globally,” MSC Chief Executive Rupert Howes said in a news release.

The improvements made by certified fisheries range from advancements in technology and research as well as enhanced management strategies and more selective fishing practices. The Kerguelen toothfish fishery, for example, has enacted measures that have served to dramatically reduced the number of seabirds accidentally caught on longlines, with just three grey petrel mortalities reported last year, MSC noted. Meanwhile, the Louisiana blue crab fishery has worked to remove 25,000 derelict crab traps, minimizing the risk of ghost-fishing to vulnerable terrapin species.

“From improving harvest strategies to taking action to reduce impacts on other species, MSC-certified fisheries are developing innovative science-based solutions to the challenges of sustainable management. The report shows how their commitment to sustainability is making a real and lasting difference to the health of the world’s fish stocks and marine ecosystems,” said MSC Science and Standards Director David Agnew

Also of note in the Global Impacts Report are the figures associated with the sustainability of fish stocks in Northern Europe over the past 14 years. According to MSC, the biomass of fish stocks that went on to become MSC-certified grew more than that of uncertified stocks. This “demonstrates that certified fisheries are improving the health of fish populations. MSC-certified fisheries in Europe now target more abundant fish stocks at a more sustainable fishing rate than they did before MSC certification,” said Agnew.

MSC’s Chain of Custody certificate has also seen an influx in successful registrants over the past five years, tripling from 1,099 certificate-holders in 2010 to 3,000 in 2015. China is one countries with the highest amount of Chain of Custody certificates, mostly on the processing side, with North America and Europe home to a large number of certified fisheries.

The report “acknowledges the need for greater representation in the MSC program from fisheries in the developing world,” said the organization. As of now, only 20 fisheries in developing countries have achieved MSC certification, with 15 more presently undergoing assessment. “These numbers are rising and the MSC has developed tools, funding and training initiatives aimed at making certification more accessible,” the organization said in its release.

“With many developing world fisheries in urgent need of improvement or recovery, the challenge is huge – but so is the potential for transformation,” Howes said. "MSC is committed to helping these fisheries overcome barriers to certification and to building their capacity for effective and sustainable fisheries management.”

Access the full report below:


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