Eligible fisheries for MSC certification — Marine Stewardship Council
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Eligible fisheries for MSC certification

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MSC certification is available to all wild-capture fisheries, regardless of their size, scale, ecology, geography or technology. 

Any wild-capture marine or freshwater fishery can be assessed against the MSC Fisheries Standard but pure aquaculture fisheries are not within the scope of MSC assessment.

Enhanced fisheries and the MSC

Between pure wild-capture fisheries and pure aquaculture, there is a broad spectrum of fisheries that involve human intervention – the enhanced fisheries. The MSC has three categories of enhanced fishery:

  1. Catch and Grow fisheries - also known as Capture-based Aquaculture. For example, rope grown mussels. The important factor that separates this from pure aquaculture is that the fish start out being caught from the wild.
  2. Hatch and Catch fisheries - also known as Culture-based fisheries. In these fisheries, the fishers introduce eggs, larvae or young fish into the wild from hatcheries and then catch them from the wild when they have matured.
  3. Habitat modified fisheries - for example, providing ropes for mussels to grow on.

To be eligible, enhanced fisheries must meet criteria around:

  • the link to and maintenance of a wild-stock
  • how the fish are fed and looked after
  • the impact the enhanced fishery has on the habitats and wider ecosystem.

For full details of enhanced fisheries see Fisheries Certification Requirements and guidance

Fisheries with limited data

Many fisheries do not have access to detailed scientific research data that is typically evaluated in an MSC assessment. This is particularly true for small scale and developing country fisheries. However options are available:

Read about risk-based assessment >
Or contact us

Fisheries not eligible

This includes fisheries that:

  • are targeting amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals
  • are using destructive fishing practices (such as poison or explosives)
  • have been successfully prosecuted for forced labour violations within the last two years  
  • are conducted under a controversial unilateral exemption to an international agreement
  • are purely aquaculture, although some forms of enhanced fishery may be eligible for assessment.

To find out more go to:

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