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UK Government backs MSC programme

The UK Government has strongly backed the Marine Stewardship Council in its response to the  Environmental Audit Committee’s Sustainable Seas Inquiry 1

The Government response recognised the MSC as “the most rigorous certification scheme in the seafood sector” and endorsed MSC’s consultative stakeholder process saying: "The Government strongly encourages non-governmental organisations and individuals to participate in the frequent stakeholder consultations that the MSC holds, which cover specific issues in the assessment methodology as well as general improvements to the standard."

Rupert Howes, MSC Chief Executivesaid: “The MSC has been an active and open participant throughout the EAC’s inquiry on Sustainable Seas. The breadth and detail of topics, which spanned multiple parliamentary sessions, cover issues that are of vital importance to the future sustainability of our oceans.  As Chief Executive of the MSC, I welcome the UK Government’s endorsement of MSC’s robust fisheries certification and labelling program which, through the leadership and engagement of our partners, is contributing to driving real and lasting change in the way our oceans are being fished.

We are pleased the UK Government has encouraged NGOs and the public to participate in MSC consultations and look forward to working with Government, partners, and other stakeholders as we take forward our five-yearly Fisheries Standard Review.” 2

The response reaffirmed the UK Government’s commitment to safeguarding our seas and welcomed coordinated efforts to drive future fisheries sustainability together. It also recognised the successful cooperation between the UK Government and Project Inshore – a project that has now grown into a series of Fishery Improvement Projects – called Project UK Fisheries Improvements (PUKFI) that is supporting UK fisheries on their journey towards sustainability.

The Government commits to playing its role in managing and overseeing fisheries and ensuring their sustainability, and to work alongside MSC so that common aims can be achieved, following the example of successful cooperation under the UK Project Inshore.

The project is supported by a wider array of retail partners, including Coop, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and a host of other seafood supply chain partners and environmental groups, such as WWF -UK and the Marine Conservation Society.

Erin Priddle, UK and Ireland Programme Director for the MSC said: “This is a welcome endorsement from the UK Government and we look forward to future engagement and coordination as we strive to achieve mutual goals for UK seafood sustainability.  The Government’s commitment to work alongside the MSC will help ensure a sustainable future for UK fisheries for this and future generations.”

1Background on the Sustainable Seas Inquiry

The Environmental Audit Committee’s Sustainable Seas Inquiry took place from March to December 2018 with a parliamentary report, including recommendations, published in January 2019.

The Inquiry looked at the future of the sea – examining how marine life can be protected from climate change, overfishing and pollution, and how the Government can create a more sustainable blue economy.

One of the fourteen questions examined by the committee was:

How effective are the Marine Stewardship Council’s ecolabel and fishery certification scheme at ensuring fisheries are sustainable?

The committee concluded that:

“The Marine Stewardship Council standard is the market leader and the most rigorous certification in the seafood sector.”

The inquiry report also noted that:

“…alternative labelling and certification systems… are not nearly as rigorous or stringent.”

Read more about the Sustainable Seas Inquiry Report

Download the full Government response.


2MSC Fishery Standard Review

The Fisheries Standard Review, conducted every five years, aims to ensure that the MSC Fisheries Standard continues to represent widely accepted international best practice in sustainable fisheries science and management, reduce complexity and barriers for new fisheries and review issues that impede effective application or interpretation of the Standard.

Find out more about the topics covered in the latest review

Take part in the Fishery Standard Review