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MSC process transparent and scientifically robust, encourages stakeholder input

Jan 31, 2018

New Zealand - The Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) vision is to keep our oceans teeming with life and to safeguard seafood supplies for future generations. Over the last 20 years, the MSC has helped incentivise responsible stewardship of global fisheries - delivering real change in support of healthy oceans.

“The MSC has received recent criticisms in the media from stakeholder groups, including Forest and Bird, that have called into question the sustainability of a number of fisheries in the MSC program. We stand by the credibility of our program, a key part of which is the opportunity for stakeholders to submit information or data that might impact the sustainability assessment of a fishery. We encourage Forest and Bird to continue its role as an important player in the health our oceans by participating in this process so we can collectively be part of real, lasting change on the water.” says Anne Gabriel, MSC Oceania Program Director.

MSC is the world’s most robust and recognised sustainability standard for wild caught seafood, based on UN FAO guidelines for best practice and creating a mechanism for measurable change in our oceans. Since 2000, over 1,200 improvements have been made by fisheries to meet the MSC Standard. These have delivered more stable stocks, reduced bycatch and improved management and monitoring through better scientific understanding.

Fisheries seeking MSC certification are subject to a 12-18-month assessment period where an independent body assesses the fishery on three principles; health of target stock, wider ecosystem marine impacts (including bycatch and interactions with Endangered, Threatened or Protected (ETP) species) and management of the fishery. Certification lasts for five years and 94% of fisheries made at least one improvement to achieve or maintain MSC certification. Annual audits occur throughout this five-year period to ensure fisheries are progressing towards improvement targets and to allow stakeholders further opportunities to enter new information into the process. Assessments are completely transparent being publicly accessible, peer reviewed, and based on the best available science.

 “As the fourth largest marine environment in the world, the New Zealand seafood industry and government has taken a world leading role in engaging over half of the country’s wild caught fish in the MSC programme, showing commitment to preserve fish for future generations. The MSC programme is approved and recognised by international standard setting organisations such as ISEAL Alliance and Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), for its credibility, inclusiveness, rigour and science-based substantiation.” continued Ms Gabriel.

There are currently eight MSC certified fisheries in New Zealand, including hoki, hake, ling, southern blue whiting, toothfish, skipjack tuna and albacore tuna. In December 2016, three of the nine New Zealand orange roughy fisheries also attained MSC certification. In total, MSC certified species account for around 70% of the deep water catch and around 50% of total volume of New Zealand’s seafood landings.

The MSC is a listening and transparent organisation, committed to continuous improvement towards understanding and meeting evolving expectations of sustainability, while maintaining a program that is also practical, accessible and science-based. 

Through an open, consultative process, MSC updates the Fisheries Standard every five years to keep with best practice and ensure the health of the oceans. An essential part of this is the constructive feedback from stakeholders representing industry, government, conservation groups, academia, etc. which is significantly provided for within the MSC governance structure and processes.

“It has been an incredible two decades for the MSC. Today, more than 400 fisheries around the world, landing nearly 12 million tonnes of seafood annually and representing 14% of the global wild marine catch, are engaged in the programme. None of this would have been possible without stakeholder commitments that include providing valuable input into MSC certifications.” Ms Gabriel further noted.   




New Zealand orange roughy fishery certified as sustainable

New Zealand hoki fisheries meet international best practice standard for sustainability


The MSC Standard for Sustainable Fishing Explained



Meredith Ann Epp

MSC Communications and Marketing Manager Oceania 

+ 61 0401 874 642

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