Press release

UK seafood moving in a more sustainable direction

October 13, 2015

45% UK seafood catch is now certified sustainable, with over 1,100 MSC labelled products on sale in the UK

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has today released its annual report, showing progress in its mission to ensure healthy oceans for the future.

Thanks to the efforts of those catching, processing and selling our seafood, UK consumers are now choosing from more MSC certified sustainable seafood products than ever before.

More sustainable fishing

Globally, fisheries which meet the MSC’s high standard of sustainability now catch close to nine million metric tonnes of seafood, representing almost 10% of the total global wild-caught seafood supply. Catches from the 23 UK-based MSC certified fisheries account for close to 300,000 tonnes, but represent 45% the total UK catch.

Two decades on from the collapse of the Grand Banks cod fishery in Newfoundland, the report shows how fisheries in the Northern Hemisphere have become world leaders in sustainability and good management: 97% Canadian Atlantic lobster is now MSC certified, as are 87% of Alaska’s fisheries, by volume. Closer to home, the MSC certified Scottish North Sea haddock fishery has delivered global best practice to safeguard haddock stocks. Around 40% of haddock from this fishery is sold with the MSC ecolabel, giving consumers confidence in its source and sustainability.

More sustainable seafood products

In the UK availability of MSC labelled products has more than doubled since 2012. More than 1,100 products, comprised of 25 seafood species, are now available with the MSC ecolabel in the UK– the third highest by country after Germany and the Netherlands.

Globally seafood retailers and restaurants now sell a record 17,000 products with the MSC ecolabel, with more than 34,000 business locations certified to ensure a traceable global supply chain for MSC certified products. “This growth and momentum, through the leadership of our partners, is driving lasting change in the way our oceans are fished, rewarding good practice and catalysing improvements where needed to meet the growing global demand for certified sustainable seafood,” says MSC CEO, Rupert Howes.

Leadership is coming from small, large and international players. This year the number of fish and chip restaurants in the UK achieving MSC certification rose by a third, with many more taking the first step and choosing to go into MSC assessment. Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Lidl continue their commitments to provide a choice of sustainable MSC labelled fish products. Students at 21 UK-based universities can choose MSC certified seafood in their canteens. The world’s first MSC certified dog treats, hailing from Grimsby, are now on sale. International brands such as IKEA and Birds Eye, have also committed to 100% MSC ecolabelled wild seafood.

The global nature of the seafood market means that, like elsewhere, fish sold in the UK comes from many countries. More than 250 fisheries around the word are now certified to the MSC’s standard for environmentally sustainable fishing.

“By choosing seafood with the MSC ecolabel, consumers, retailers and restaurants are encouraging more fisheries to become more sustainable. Their purchases reward sustainable fishing and in turn incentivise others to improve to the high standards required to become MSC certified,” says Toby Middleton, Programme Director for MSC in the UK.

Read the full annual report in PDF format online


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