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In response to the claims made in the Netflix film, Seaspiracy, the Marine Stewardship Council said:

The Seaspiracy documentary is correct in saying that there is a crisis in our oceans, and an urgent need to end overfishing. However, it is wrong to claim that there is no such thing as sustainable fishing and that the only solution is to stop eating fish.

Some of the problems that the film highlights – bycatch, overfishing and destruction of marine ecosystems – are precisely the issues the MSC certification process is designed to address. MSC-certified fisheries must adhere to our verifiable and science-based requirements, ensuring that fish stocks are conserved for future generations. The positive impact of our programme has been recognised by the United Nations, as being important in helping to support ocean biodiversity.

As a not for profit, all the income from licencing use of the MSC eco-label goes back into our program of work enabling sustainable fishing around the world. That includes providing grants through our Ocean Stewardship Fund to support fisheries in the developing world reform their fishing practises to become sustainable. We are entirely transparent about our market-based funding model, and it is completely wrong to imply – as the film does - that our independent certification process is financially motivated. 

Although it is not made clear in the film, its executive producer and presenter are committed vegans. It is therefore not surprising that the film concludes only plant-based alternatives are viable. Whilst we recognise and respect veganism as a wholly legitimate choice, it is worth remembering too, that millions of people around the world rely on seafood for their protein needs.  With the global population set to reach 10 billion by 2050, the need to harness our natural resources responsibly is more urgent than ever. Sustainable fishing has a vital role to play in securing those resources.