How MSC Certified Fisheries are Improving Beyond Certification

Fisheries don’t stop improving once they become MSC certified. They make a long-term commitment to sustainability and to keep up with global best practice.

Why do MSC certified fisheries need improving?

While fisheries must be performing at a high level to be MSC certified, there is often room for improvement. To be certified as sustainable, fisheries must score an average of at least 80 out of 100 for each of the MSC Fisheries Standard’s three principles: sustainable stocks, environmental impacts, and effective management. 

Each principle of the Fisheries Standard is made up of 28 indicators. If a certified fishery scores less than 80/100 on an individual indicator, it will be set a ‘condition of certification’ by the independent assessor. The fishery must then implement a plan of action to make improvements that will bring it up to global best practice. If conditions are not met within the certification period (usually 5 years), the fishery is suspended from the MSC program.

Over 95% of certified fisheries have successfully completed at least one condition. Conditions drive continual improvement towards global best practice in fisheries sustainability.

What improvements have been made?

Completing one condition can lead to a wide range of improvements. By 2020, MSC certified fisheries had recorded 1,751 different improvements from 1,267 conditions. 

Sometimes, one action produces multiple improvements. For example, modifying gear types could reduce bycatch of a range of species.

From 2017 to 2019, MSC certified fisheries made 384 improvements, including:

turtle icon126 improvements benefiting endangered, threatened, and protected species and bycatch
fish net icon111 improvements benefiting stock status and harvest strategies
fish check icon75 improvements benefiting fishery management, governance and policy
coral icon72 improvements benefiting ecosystems and habitats


Global Impacts 2017

Global Impacts 2017

Read our full Global Impacts Report from 2017, which showcases the progress and improvements delivered by certified fisheries around the world.

Read the report
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