In the early 90s the impact of overfishing on the marine environment and on seafood supplies was of increasing concern to many around the world. This concern was heightened by the collapse of Canada’s Grand Banks cod fishery in 1992 which led to over 35,000 fishers and plant workers from over 400 coastal communities losing their jobs.
In the autumn of 1995, representatives of WWF and Unilever met to discuss what they could do to curb the problem.
The two organisations agreed that a global, market-driven approach could contribute significantly to existing efforts. They envisaged a program for assessing and certifying sustainable fisheries, and labelling products from those fisheries. Such a program would recognise and reward responsible management of seafood resources and drive behaviour change among buyers.
The resulting organisation would need to be independent of both the WWF and Unilever, hence the birth of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). A statement of intent was signed on 26 February, 1996 to announce the launch.