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The MSC ensures that certified fisheries allow the recovery of all endangered, threatened and protected species.

Species such as birds, turtles and marine mammals can be attracted to or disrupted by fishing vessels, putting them at risk of harm.

In fact, fisheries are the most significant human threat to marine mammals, including endangered populations. Direct impacts include entanglement in fishing gear, capture and death. Animals caught by mistake are usually referred to as bycatch or unwanted catch.

A fishery might also affect wildlife indirectly by changing migration routes or reducing food or safe habitats. Managing fishing impacts on these populations is critical if endangered animals are to survive and recover.

We are aligned with global efforts to protect endangered animals. Species listed as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species are considered Endangered, Threatened and Protected within the MSC Fisheries Standard

MSC requirements for protecting endangered species

The MSC Fisheries Standard's Principle 2 (minimising environmental impact) covers the impact of fisheries on the environment and wildlife. MSC certified fisheries likely to encounter any endangered, threatened and protected species must carefully manage and reduce any negative interactions. They must also make sure nothing they do hinders the species' recovery.

Any impacts on endangered, threatened or protected species must be within limits set by national or international requirements. The MSC also has strict requirements in place for migratory species with a high risk of extinction and species subject to trade bans.

To make an assessment, certification bodies use information from local knowledge and scientific research. They might also look at regulatory monitoring programs, observer reports, inspections or even footage from electronic monitoring tools such as security cameras. 

The Fisheries Standard requires gear types to be assessed separately as their risks to different species vary.

Improving our Standard

Every few years we review the MSC Standards so they remain relevant. This allows us to incorporate widely accepted new science and fisheries management best practice, as well as improve implementation and address stakeholder concerns. 

Find out how the Fisheries Standard Review aims to clarify best practice for reducing impacts on endangered, threatened and protected species.

Stakeholders from all sectors are at the heart of our review, helping identify issues, develop solutions and test proposed changes. Find out more about opportunities to get involved in reviewing our Standards.