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Urgent International Collaboration Needed to Safeguard our Ocean, says MSC

New Report Highlights the Essential Role of Sustainable Fishing in Meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the non-profit responsible for the world’s leading sustainable seafood ecolabel, is calling on global leaders to recognize the vital role of sustainable fishing in delivering urgent progress to safeguard our ocean, livelihoods, and food supplies.  

With members of the United Nations meeting in New York next week to reconfirm commitments to the international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the MSC today published a new report outlining how policymakers, companies, funders, and other ocean stakeholders can support the SDGs through sustainable fishing. Despite the ocean’s vital importance to every aspect of human life, from feeding people to regulating the climate, no country is close to achieving SDG14: Life Below Water and it remains significantly underfunded.

Previous analysis by the MSC found that ending overfishing could provide enough protein for 72 million additional people a year, contributing to the delivery of SDG2 on zero hunger. According to the World Bank, ending overfishing could help deliver more than US$80 billion in economic benefits a year, supporting SDG8 on economic development. 

The report release is timed to the UN SDG Summit which marks the mid-point of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity.   

“Time is running out. With only seven years remaining until the 2030 deadline, we’re at a pivotal moment to ensure SDG 14 can have a real and lasting impact on the water,” said Erika Feller, MSC Americas Director. “The MSC report outlines how the growth of sustainable fishing practices globally supports the delivery of the SDGs.” 

Sustainable fishing is integral across the sustainable development goals, particularly SDG 14 which includes targets to end overfishing, protect and restore ecosystems, and supports the delivery of multiple other goals. The MSC report shows that fisheries, governments, and companies' involvement in the MSC program are helping to deliver 34 targets across five of the Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 2: Zero Hunger 

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth 

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production 

SDG 14: Life below water 

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals 

As the 2030 deadline for completion of the goals nears, there is increasing urgency for how to credibly measure progress towards these global goals. Data from the MSC program is already used by some national governments and businesses as evidence of progress towards SDG14 targets. These data are formally recognized as indicators of delivering the UN Biodiversity Framework and the UN Environment Program.   

Feller continued, “This new MSC SDG report highlights just how important it is to demonstrate progress accurately and credibly. My hope is that we see strong and time-bound commitments come out of the SDG Summit toward achieving SDG14." 

The MSC has set a goal to engage a third of the global wild seafood harvest in the MSC program by 2030, which can only be accomplished through partnerships among fisheries, businesses, governments, NGOs and other stakeholders. Stronger commitments and dedicated funding to support sustainable fishing practices by governments and the public and private sector are critically needed to make progress on the important SDGs. 

Download the full report “Fishing and the Sustainable Development Goals: How the MSC program enables meaningful action and measurement towards delivering the SDGs” here.