The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the first global sustainable seafood certification program to achieve recognition from the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), confirming it meets international requirements for credibility and rigour.
The GSSI benchmark, based on United Nation Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) Guidelines for the Ecolabelling of Fish and Fishery Products, includes international performance indicators for governance, operational management, supply chain traceability and auditing. It was developed in consultation with environmental NGOs, global businesses, independent experts, government and intergovernmental organisations. Recognition to this benchmark required a high level of scrutiny of the MSC’s operations and included detailed stakeholder consultation.
The MSC program meets all the essential components of the GSSI benchmark, and a further 63 supplementary components relating to issues such as deep sea fishing, vulnerable marine ecosystems and data collection to demonstrate impact. It is the first international seafood sustainability standard, applicable to all wild caught seafood, to achieve GSSI recognition.
Confidence in global best practice
Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC said: “The MSC offers a science and evidence based program to recognise sustainable fishing practices throughout the world, rewarding existing good practice and driving real change on a global scale. Recognition from GSSI reaffirms the rigour and credibility of MSC certification. Anyone committing to purchase MSC certified seafood can be confident that it reflects global best practice in fisheries management.”
Dr David Agnew, Director of Science and Standards at the MSC said: “The MSC welcomed the thorough scrutiny of our processes and requirements that was required to achieve GSSI recognition. Third-party scrutiny, independence, transparency, impartiality and stakeholder consultation are central to the MSC’s values and commitment to continually improve and maintain world-leading standards.”
Audun Lem, Deputy Director Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Economics Division, UN FAO said: “MSC’s successful completion of the GSSI Benchmark Process highlights the importance of adhering to internationally agreed instruments such as the FAO Ecolabelling Guidelines. The GSSI process has demonstrated the merit of various types of certification schemes and we encourage others to follow MSC’s example.”
Further confirmation of credibility
In addition to meeting the GSSI benchmark, the MSC is the only wild-seafood certification program to be a fully qualified member of ISEAL, the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance, requiring compliance with their highly regarded Codes for Standard-Setting, Assurance and Impact Monitoring.
The MSC also undertakes regular reviews and consultations of its own processes, inviting and responding to input from stakeholders including those on the MSC Stakeholder Council and Technical Advisory Board. These groups represent a broad cross section of the seafood industry, eNGOs and scientific community.
Herman Wisse, GSSI Program Director, concluded: “The MSC’s successful completion of the GSSI Benchmark Process marks a milestone in ensuring confidence in seafood certification. Our collective work towards more sustainable seafood requires robust and credible certification in alignment with the UN FAO Guidelines.”