MSC launches latest figures showing economic and environmental benefits of certification — MSC
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MSC launches latest figures showing economic and environmental benefits of certification

May 08, 2014

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) yesterday launched its latest market figures at the Seafood Expo Global 2014 in Brussels, demonstrating the commitments MSC partners are making to the programme.

Nicolas Guichoux, Global Commercial Director, revealed new data at the MSC's annual Global Commercial Network meeting that showed an annual rise in MSC certified products of 21% to September 2013 and a fivefold increase in four years.

A global elite of well managed fisheries

"This growth would not be possible without the participation of our partners throughout the value chain who deliver environmental choice to the consumer," he said. "MSC certified fisheries are now part of a global elite of sustainable and well-managed fisheries."

Up to September 2013, the annual net wholesale value of MSC certified products reached $4.5bn*, worth around an additional 40% at retail, he said.

MSC was also seeing a shift towards emerging sectors such as sustainably sourced fish oil supplements.

There are now 221 certified fisheries in the MSC program and a further 106 in assessment, representing 10.5% of the world’s wild-capture fisheries.

Partner efforts having environmental and economic impacts

"Thanks to the efforts of our partners throughout the seafood supply chain, MSC partners are having a cumulative environmental and economic impact on a global scale," he said.

MSC has recorded more than 450 improvements in fisheries to date and is planning this year to release a second Global Impacts report with greater detail of these and new improvements.

"We will record more evidence of improvements for the next 10 years - it won't be the last time you'll hear the MSC talking about the environmental impact that our partners make,” he said.

The South Africa hake fishery employs 8,300 staff, exports 60% of its catch, brings in $180m in annual revenue and indirectly supports a network of logistics companies, secondary processors and exporters.

As a result of certification, environmental gains also include quota reductions, ring-fencing of fishing grounds, bycatch management and a 90% reduction in total seabird mortality thanks to the deployment of streamer lines.

Confidence in a science-based standard

This year, the MSC is finalising its five-yearly Fisheries Standard Review and has launched a review of its Chain of Custody, which enables MSC labelled seafood to be traceable back to a certified fishery.

Rupert Howes, chief executive of MSC, said: "MSC 's standard for environmentally responsible and sustainable fishing is science based.

"Part of the success of the program and the momentum behind it is that people have confidence in that standard - it has to be a high bar to underpin the sustainability."

He added that MSC was also working on a speed and cost review to reduce complexity and cost.

"The improvements that we're looking to put to the board could potentially reduce the costs of engagement by fishery clients by up to 50%," he said. "There are costs, but there are also benefits and they have to be looked at together."

Emerging markets for sustainable seafood

Guest panellists at the MSC’s Global Commercial Network meeting yesterday also shared their views on market trends in sustainable seafood.

Martin Sullivan, President and CEO of Ocean Choice International (OCI), said that awareness of MSC was high in Europe and North America, but starting to grow in Asia.

"In Japan, there's already engagement, and an increasing demand for MSC labelled products," he said. "We're even seeing the start of that in China - it's very early stages, but the prevailing view is that in most major markets in the world, people are demanding sustainably sourced product. It has grown so fast in the past five years and we'll see it accelerate in Asia in the next few years.

"The biggest growth markets for us are in Asia and there's not much penetration of MSC. But we'll see increasing market penetration in cultures that eat a lot of seafood."

Single mindedness required for sustainability message

Jari Latvanen, chief executive officer of Findus Nordic, said: "The food business is all about building trust with consumers and consumer awareness of sustainability is increasing. It's all about making more sustainable choices. From that perspective, MSC is a great tool to make the choice when buying or shopping for fish.

"But we have to put more effort into the brand. Yes, we need the MSC's third party verification that we are sourcing sustainably, but then the brand needs to do the talking and build the relationship with the consumers.

"In order to get the message across we need to be really single minded."

High demand for sustainable tuna

Henk Brus, managing director at Pacifical, indicated that there is a huge potential for sustainable, MSC certified tuna.

“If we realise that tuna is the number 1 wild seafood in the world, you don’t see big numbers of MSC certification. It’s worrisome. The MSC certification that I’m working with in PNA** countries have fisheries worth more than 400,000 metric tonnes of MSC eligible fish which comes down to more or less 5% of the volume of MSC eligible catches in the world.

"There is a massive demand in the world for this sustainable tuna. But none of that is coming to the market. We’ve been certified with a Chain of Custody certification for almost one and a half years and we’ve only been able to reach 0.2% of the volume. Retailers in the US and Europe are asking for this tuna to come to the market and not even .5% reaches the market.

"With the introduction of the MSC standard, we really innovated the self-certification scheme and we adjusted it to today’s standard, based on traceability, accountability and science.

*Combined figure for all MSC labelled products: $3.3bn consumer-facing, plus $1.2bn non-consumer facing     

**Parties to the Nauru Agreement Western and Central Pacific skipjack tuna fishery

View the full recording of the MSC meeting and the presentation 

MSC in numbers

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