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How we meet best practice

The MSC meets the highest benchmarks for credible certification and ecolabelling programs. This ensures we can promote robust processes and uphold our values of independence, transparency, impartiality and stakeholder involvement.

We offer the world’s only wild-capture seafood certification and ecolabelling program that is consistent with all of the following international norms:

The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing (UN FAO)

The MSC Fisheries Standard is based in part on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations’ Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing (CCRF). The Code was established in 1995 as a framework for international efforts to encourage fishing activity that is sustainable and in harmony with the environment. It provides principles and standards for the conservation, management and development of fisheries around the world.

Guidelines for the Ecolabelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries (UN FAO)

The MSC's seafood certification and ecolabelling scheme is fully consistent with this internationally-agreed set of principles, including:

  • objective, third-party fishery assessment using scientific evidence
  • transparent processes with built-in stakeholder consultation and objection procedures
  • standards based on the three factors - sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices.

The Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards (ISEAL)

The International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL) is an association of leading international sustainability standards systems for social and environmental issues. The MSC is a qualified member by meeting the ISEAL Code of Good Practice. This requires that:

  • standards are set in open, transparent and participatory processes
  • there is a systematic and objective monitoring and evaluation of the standards' effects and impacts
  • there are measures to demonstrate progress whilst integrating new learning and encourage increase benefits to people and the environment

What is a Sustainability Standard? from ISEAL Alliance on Vimeo.

World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement

Standards and other regulations can sometimes create obstacles to international trade, known as Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs). These cause inequalities by preventing some countries from participating in and benefiting from international trade –The World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement exists to ensure that standards do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. ISEAL has sought a legal opinion from the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) which confirms that all organisations consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice, are not TBTs.

ISEAL/CIEL legal opinion (ISEAL website)
World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (WTO website)

“...the French authority, FranceAgriMer conducted an evaluation of existing ecolabelling schemes […]; it concluded that MSC was the only scheme consistent with the FAO guidelines.”

Proceedings of the Round Table on Ecolabelling and Certification in the Fisheries Sector OECD/FAO (The Hague, The Netherlands, April 2009)

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