Safeguarding the fish that feed other fish

Small pelagic species are some of the world’s most caught and traded fish. They support important fisheries all over the world in countries that rely on fishing for their economy.

The need for sustainable fishing

This complex group of fish are dealing with a number of pressures from climate change to pollution and overfishing. Climate change is causing fishing stocks to shift to new waters, leading to disputes between governments over how to share fishery resources. Subsequently many fisheries are facing difficulties in maintaining MSC certification, such as Atlanto-Scando herring and blue whiting in the North Atlantic. 

How the MSC program can help

Despite challenges, as of 2020, 56 fisheries targeting small pelagic species are engaged with the MSC program. This number includes fisheries that are certified, suspended or in assessment. These fisheries collectively land over five million tonnes a year, around a fifth of the global small pelagic catch. With so many small pelagic fisheries in our program, the MSC has built expertise in their unique characteristics and challenges. 

Watch our webinar

The MSC Briefing 01: Small Pelagic Fisheries provides a full analysis of how we can sustainably manage, catch, source and sell small pelagic fish. For its launch on 17 March 2021 we held a live discussion with experts from CargillVeramarisTesco and the MSC.

Watch the recording below.

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The fish that feed other fish


School of small pelagic fish

MSC Briefing 01: Small Pelagic Fisheries

Download the MSC briefing on small pelagic fisheries which consolidates our expertise on this complex topic.


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An illustration of a mackerel fish

Small pelagic fish

Small pelagic fish are the unsung heroes of the ocean. But this important group of species faces a complex range of pressures and must be fished sustainably.

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Woman processing salted cod (Bacalao) at Visir, Grindavik, Iceland

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MSC certification helps you to meet a growing global demand for sustainable, traceable seafood, strengthens your reputation and offers new business opportunities.

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