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Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certification

In adhering to the sustainability standards developed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC),  wild-capture fisheries from around the world can be recognised for specific management practices by the MSC label applied to the produce of these fisheries. In this, consumers are granted the choice between certified and non-certified fish products.

There are two types of MSC certification which determine that certain criteria has to be met. Firstly, in production, all fisheries must prove that they have sustainable fish stocks,  that they have minimised any environmental impacts and that they are managed effectively. Secondly, in trade, all fisheries must have effective storage and record-keeping systems which prove that only seafood from certified fisheries carry the MSC ecolabel (MSC chain of custody standard for seafood traceability).

Consumption

Consumers can purchase MSC certified products in numerous retailers and restaurants, using the MSC label to inform their personal choice. 

Market coverage: 

According to the 2013 Annual Report, consumers are able to purchase over 19,000 MSC certified products worldwide.

There are currently 32 countries with certified fisheries, representing 198 certified wild capture fisheries, with a further 108 in assessment. On the consumer side, there are 106 countries were MSC products are available.  MSC-certified fish represents almost 7% of total gloal wild capture catch.

Background information: 

The MSC and its certification scheme were created in 1997 as a result of WWF and Unilever collaborating on the issue of seafood sustainability, using the FAO's comprehensive fisheries guidelines as a foundation. The MSC has its headquarters in London with regional offices around the world.

Funding source: 

Donations and ‘charitable activities’ (logo licensing). Total Income 2011/2012 = £15.4 million of which £10 million was from charitable grants (trusts and individuals); 42% charitable activities (logo licensing).

Notable information: 
  • MSC certification is the most recognised label in seafood and is the largest organisation concerned with fisheries management.
  • Certified fisheries are found predominantly in the Global North, however it should be noted that the MSC does have a Developing World Fisheries Programme that 'promotes fair and equal access to sustainable seafood markets'.
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