Working with mixed fisheries

The MSC is working towards making the MSC program more accessible for fisheries that catch multiple species.

Fisheries that catch more than one species at a time, often called mixed fisheries, require a different kind of management than fisheries that target and catch a single species.

In a single-species fishery, management is based on the amount of fish that can be harvested from a given population without overfishing. This concept is known as Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). There are many fisheries in the MSC program that are managed using MSY, such as certified tuna fisheries.

In a mixed fishery, management based on the MSY of just one of the caught species does not necessarily maintain all caught species at sustainable levels. The more species in the catch, the more costly and difficult it is to monitor and manage each one. Species in the catch can have different population numbers, breeding rates and some species might be more impacted by fishing than others.

In addition, different species often interact with each other. For example, if one species is the predator or prey of another then harvesting one will probably affect the abundance of the other.

MSC requirements for mixed fisheries

Currently the MSC Fisheries Standard requires every species that is caught to be assessed. For some fisheries this can involve over a dozen species.

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. 

Find out how the Fisheries Standard Review aims to develop alternative management approaches for mixed and multispecies fisheries.

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 fishing net hanging over the water

Maintaining fish stocks

Sustainable fish stocks are at the heart of the MSC program. Ensuring that the world's fish stocks remain healthy is vital for marine ecosystems and global food security.

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Clam fisherman standing in silhouette on small boat, India

Our approach to data-limited fisheries

To ensure the MSC program is accessible to all, we developed a methodology for the assessment of data-deficient fisheries: the Risk-Based Framework.

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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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