The creation of the MSC in 1997 was a result of two global organizations, WWF and Unilever, wanting to tackle the issue of seafood sustainability. Together they founded the MSC.
The MSC solution has 3 parts:
- Recognise and reward fisheries that fish sustainably
- Work with fishery and commercial partners to build a market for sustainable seafood
- Give buyers and consumers an easy way to find seafood from a sustainable fishery - the blue MSC ecolabel
See the MSC solution in action
Discover how it’s worked out for all the fisheries certified in our first 10 years.
Fishers’ stories – Net Benefits 2009
Leaders from the seafood industry and retailers have welcomed the establishment of the MSC standard and are already taking part – today there are over 100 fisheries that have voluntarily entered into the MSC program, millions of tonnes of MSC certified sustainable seafood are caught annually, and shoppers around the world are choosing MSC-labelled seafood.
The most robust, effective, and accessible certification program
MSC fisheries certification is open to all wild capture fisheries – whatever their size, type or location. The MSC program does not include farmed fish, which is why our ecolabel is only displayed on wild caught fish.
Fisheries certified under the MSC program have gone to great lengths to show that they meet the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing. The standard is based on three core principles:
1. Sustainability of exploited fish stocks
2. Maintenance of the ecosystem on which the fishery depends
3. Effective and responsible management
To become MSC certified, fisheries voluntarily agree to undergo an independent, third-party assessment by an accredited certifier and team of independent experts, who might make multiple visits to the fishery depending on its size and complexity. The team gathers and analyses the best scientific data, and makes it available to anyone who registers an interest (such as government agencies, conservation groups and scientists). At the end of the consultation process, the team recommends whether or not the fishery meets the three core principles of the MSC standard and a report is published on this website for anyone to read and even object to before the team issues a final assessment and report on the fishery.
If the certifier confirms that the fishery meets the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing then that fishery can apply to use the MSC ecolabel on its products.
Knowing where our seafood comes from
Being able to trust that the seafood you are eating really comes from a sustainable source is crucial to the MSC program, which is why we have a second MSC certification for ‘boat to plate’ traceability. This is called the MSC Chain of Custody standard for seafood traceability. When you buy seafood that carries the MSC ecolabel, every company that has handled the product, from the fishery to the retailer or restaurant, has been independently audited to ensure it only uses the MSC ecolabel on certified sustainable seafood, stores MSC certified products separately, and keeps effective records of MSC certified products
No illegally caught fish on my dish!
By linking seafood sold in shops and restaurants to a certified sustainable fishery, the Chain of Custody element of our program also helps to keep the growing problem of illegally caught seafood out of the supply chain and off your plate.
Look for the ecolabel
People often ask 'Is tuna environmentally friendly', or 'Is it OK to eat salmon?' Our advice is not to base your shopping decision on the type of fish, for example some cod fisheries are well-managed and others are not. We are the first to admit that there's a long way to go before every fishery is assessed, and we are sure that there are many fisheries out there that are well managed and responsible. But if you want to be certain you are buying sustainable fish, the MSC ecolabel is the simplest way to be sure it comes from a fishery that has been independently certified as sustainable against the most robust standard around today. Find out what Fish to Eat and Where to Buy.