Improving fisheries management

The MSC seeks to reward best practice in fisheries management and to support fisheries that are working to improve their management systems.


Effective management is the foundation of a sustainable fishery. 

Fisheries must control the fishing pressure put on any fish stock to ensure it can be fished sustainably in the long term. They must also protect the environment and secure the livelihoods of fishers.  

Sustainable fisheries should be governed in a fair and transparent manner, with clear objectives that guide decision making in the short and long term. 

Effective monitoring, control and surveillance need to be at the heart of any fishery management system. There also need to be clear systems in place that enforce these management rules. 


The MSC requirements for fisheries management

The way in which a fishery is governed, and the management system it has in place, is assessed under Principle 3 of the MSC Fisheries Standard (effective fisheries management).

When fisheries are assessed, the certification body checks that:

  • An effective legal or customary framework is in place that recognises the rights of people dependent on fishing for food and livelihoods
  • Management objectives are consistent with the Fisheries Standard
  • There are effective consultation and decision-making processes in place
  • The is a system in place to effectively enforce management rules
  • The performance of the management system is evaluated


Latest global efforts

Surveillance technology has advanced significantly in recent years, with fisheries managers increasingly make use of surveillance tools.

Satellite tracking of vessels now allows fishery managers to detect suspicious and illegal fishing activity even in the most remote parts of the ocean. Electronic monitoring – the use of cameras and sensors installed on board fishing vessels – is also revolutionising the way fishery managers can observe activities at sea.

This allows managers to make better informed decisions and means best practice in monitoring, control and surveillance is evolving.


Improving our Standards

Every few years we review the MSC Standards so they remain relevant. This allows us to incorporate widely accepted new science and fisheries management best practice, as well as improve  implementation and address stakeholder concerns. 

Stakeholders from all sectors are at the heart of our review, helping identify issues, develop solutions and test proposed changes. Find out more about opportunities to get involved in reviewing our Standards.  

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A small boat on the beach in Mexico

Working with mixed fisheries

The MSC is working towards making the MSC program more accessible for mixed fisheries.

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A shark fin rising out of the water

Ending shark finning

The MSC is committed to playing its part to help eliminate shark finning.

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Fisheries Standard Spotlight FINAL- for CMS

The MSC Fisheries Standard

The Fisheries Standard measures the sustainability of wild-capture fisheries. The Standard is open to all wild-capture fisheries.

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