10 facts about the MSC — Marine Stewardship Council
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10 facts about the MSC

1. We are an international organisation

The MSC program welcomes fisheries of all sizes from all the world’s oceans and has supply chain partners around the globe. We have offices in the USA, Canada, South America, Asia, South Africa, Australia and throughout Europe. Our board and Stakeholder Council have members from five continents.

MSC offices and staff >

2. The MSC program has two standards

The MSC Fisheries Standard is used to assess the sustainability of wild-capture fisheries.

The MSC Chain of Custody Standard ensures traceability, meaning our ecolabel is only displayed on seafood from an MSC certified sustainable fishery.

The MSC Standards >

3. We set the standards but fisheries and businesses are independently certified

We develop, set and regularly review the above standards, but fisheries and business are assessed and certified against them by independent certification bodies.

Third party certification >

4. The MSC program assesses wild capture fisheries only

The MSC Fisheries Standard is used to assess and certify the sustainability of wild capture marine and freshwater species. The standard does not cover fish farming (aquaculture), although some forms of enhanced fishery are eligible for assessment.

More information on eligible fisheries >

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) maintains a standard for farmed fish. We have a close relationship with the ASC and they share our Chain of Custody Standard. 

The MSC and the ASC >

5. MSC labelled seafood can be traced back to a certified fishery

The MSC Chain of Custody program allows us to trace seafood products all the way along the supply chain. To ensure the process is working, we carry out DNA testing on hundreds of MSC labelled products each year. Less than 1% of samples tested have proved to be mislabelled.

Ocean to plate traceability >

Blog post: Why you can trust MSC labelled seafood >

6. MSC certified fisheries have made environmental improvements

Hundreds of improvements in fishery management have been recorded in certified fisheries. Limited seasons have helped rebuild stocks, and strict fishing area controls have helped protect habitats and ecosystems. Changes in fishing gear have also reduced bycatch and minimised interactions with sea mammals and birds.

More about environmental impacts in Global Impacts >

7. Our program is open to everyone, including fisheries in developing countries

Our certification program is open to all fisheries regardless of size, scale, location and technology. We have a dedicated Developing World Program and have developed tools to improve the accessibility of the program to small-scale and data-deficient fisheries.   

MSC Developing World Program >

Access for all fisheries >

8. Our program meets highest benchmarks for certification and ecolabelling

The MSC program is science-based. It is the only program of its kind that meets best practice guidelines set by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) and the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL).

How we meet best practice >

9. We are a non-profit organisation

The MSC is registered as a charity in the UK and a 501c3 non-profit in the US. We rely to a large extent on support from funders who share our passion for ensuring the health of the world’s oceans for generations to come.

Additional revenue is generated from MSC International (the trading arm of the MSC) which administers a fee structure for use of the blue MSC label. The only cost in the program that is paid directly to the MSC is for voluntary use of the blue MSC label on a product or menu item.

Our finances >

Make a donation >

10. Our program is transparent and inclusive

The MSC Standards were developed in consultation with scientists, conservationists and industry partners. Information on every step of every fishery assessment is available on our site and we invite stakeholders to comment. We also welcome input on improvements to our program and its policies.
How to comment on fishery assessments >

More on policy development and program improvements >

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