Fisheries improving

The MSC examines the sustainability of certified fisheries as part of our ongoing global impact reporting. Our 2019 analysis focuses on the improvements MSC certified fisheries have made to reduce environmental impacts.

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. In fact, 92% of certified fisheries have made at least one improvement. These improvements are required for fisheries to maintain certification. These improvement requirements form what we call conditions. Each condition may impact multiple species and generate many improvements. A completed condition means a fishery's score meets best practice as measured by the three Principles of the MSC Fisheries Standard.

How many conditions have fisheries completed?

Between 2016 and 2018, MSC certified fisheries completed 288 conditions.
Graphic display of global impacts

143 conditions related to Principle 2 of the Fisheries Standard: minimizing environmental impact. 

We have recorded these conditions in four main categories:

60 bycatch

35 habitats

34 endangered, threatened, and protected species (ETP)

14 ecosystem structure and function

What actions did fisheries take to minimize environmental impact?

graphic impact of global impacts

MSC certified fisheries funded or participated in 65 new scientific research projects, including mapping the sea floor.

MSC certified fisheries have taken 24 technical actions. Among these are gear modifications for reducing bycatch and the creation of new marine protected areas (MPAs).

54 assessments of fishery impact were completed. Among these asssessments is the mapping of fisheries' pathways. This mapping enables researchers to compare a fishing area with nearby habitats and measure the fishing impact.

What are the benefits of fisheries' improvements?

An improvement is the result of an action taken by a fishery to close a condition. Sometimes, one action produces multiple

improvements. For example, closing an area to fishing could impact several species. The MSC’s Strategic Research team has analysed fisheries' improvements since 2016 to test the benefits. They found:

16 improvements benefitted marine mammals

graphic image of marine mammals benefitting from fishery improvements

33 improvements benefitted sharks and rays

graphic image of the sharks and rays benefitting from fishery improvements

9 improvements benefitted marine reptiles

graphic of marine reptile benefitting from fishery improvements

44 improvements benefitted habitats

graphic of the habitats benefitting from fishery improvements

36 improvements benefitted seabirds

graphic of bird species benefitting from fishery improvements

Actions have global impacts

Each dot on the map below represents a fishery that is engaged with the MSC program. Below we have highlighted improvements made by four MSC certified fisheries.
a map depicting some of the improvements made by fisheries

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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