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The MSC actively supports the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and its drive to increase collection and analysis of ocean data between 2021 and 2030.

Our program promotes science-based fisheries management, to ensure sustainable fish stocks for future generations. We recognise that there are many areas where more data is needed to better manage our oceans and achieve our vision.

The UN’s vision is "the science we need for the ocean we want", with success closely aligned to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Our work contributes to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development by building capacity and driving innovation in fishing. Challenges for the UN Decade include feeding the world’s population under changing environmental, social and climate conditions (Challenge 3) and developing the ocean economy in a fair way (Challenge 4).

Ocean science

The MSC collaborates with academics, fisheries and NGOs around the world to carry out science and research that supports sustainable fishing.

Sharing data

To accelerate progress, we make our findings available to other researchers and policymakers. We provide data to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme, as well as other intergovernmental organisations. This helps track progress in ending overfishing and protecting biodiversity.

Our Track a fishery website provides transparent information on all MSC certified fisheries, as well as details of those entering assessment.

Funding marine research

Our Ocean Stewardship Fund provides approximately US$1 million each year to support fisheries at all stages on their path to sustainability. Our grants enable industry and civil society partners to work together to improve the performance of fisheries.

Current projects include research to map the sea floor and studies on how to best release marine life accidentally caught in fishing gear. Some of the improvements made by fisheries are a requirement for them to gain or maintain certification, while other science advances our understanding of global best practice. We prioritise projects that will help multiple fisheries – not just those already certified – to become more sustainable.

Innovative science

Our strategic research team focusses on advancing global seafood sustainability science. This includes understanding how to best manage fish stocks that are shifting because of climate change or other factors.

We develop tools to help fisheries stay sustainable, including software to better measure the impacts of fishing gear and vessels on habitats. For fisheries that only have limited data on the species they catch or the places they fish – a problem for many small-scale fisheries and fisheries in the Global South – we are developing user-friendly simulations. These will enable them to take a precautionary approach and avoid overfishing or harming endangered, threatened, and protected species in the absence of field data.

We publish our research in peer-reviewed science journals and also produce reports and other publications to share our latest findings.

Sustainable Development

The MSC supports fisheries at all stages on the path to sustainability, and helps those in credible Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs) with tools and training.

Our Global Accessibility team ensure the benefits of our program are open to all fisheries, regardless of size or location, focussing particularly on small-scale fisheries and fisheries in the Global South.

Capacity building tools

Our suite of science-based Fishery Improvement Tools enable fisheries to assess their sustainability and measure progress towards achieving the requirements of the MSC Fisheries Standard.

Incentivising fisheries research

We incentivise our partners to improve ocean science, including through conditions placed on the certification of fisheries. These could, for example, require a fishery to collect better data on by-catch or habitats impacts, for them to stay MSC certified.

By tracking their performance we show that certified fisheries become more sustainable as they stay in our program, and provide scientific evidence of what practices help deliver our goal of healthy oceans teeming with life.

If all fisheries in the world were MSC certified, the international community would overcome several important UN Decade Challenges. If we start management reforms now, half of all overfished stocks would recover by 2030, and practically all by 2050.

Fisheries meeting the MSC Fisheries Standard are helping deliver on at least 34 different Sustainable Development Goal targets, especially under SDG 14, the goal to "conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development".

Science and research

Science and research

Our research collaborations deepen our understanding of sustainable fishing and supply chain traceability.

The MSC and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The MSC and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

MSC certification is used by countries and organisations as part of their commitments towards delivering United Nations SDG14: Life Below Water.

Ocean Stewardship Fund

Ocean Stewardship Fund

The Ocean Stewardship Fund aims to increase the number of sustainable fisheries worldwide. We fund innovative research and supporting fisheries at all stages on the path to sustainability.