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Is seafood with the MSC label really sustainable?

Yes. You can trust that seafood with the blue MSC label was caught by a responsible fishery in a sustainable way that ensures healthy oceans and safeguards seafood supplies for the future. This assurance is provided through independent assessment of fisheries to the MSC Fisheries Standard.

 

 

Science based standards

To be sold with the MSC label, seafood must come from a fishery certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard

This standard was developed in consultation with a wide range of experts including scientists, the fishing industry and conservation groups. It is reviewed every five years to ensure that it continues to reflect international best practice in fisheries management and science.

Certification requires fisheries to ensure that:

  • Fish stocks are sustainable – there are enough fish are left in the sea to reproduce.
  • Environmental impacts are minimised - fishing operations must be carefully managed to maintain the structure, productivity, function and diversity of the marine ecosystem.
  • Effective management - the fishery must comply with relevant laws and have a management system that allows it to respond quickly to changes in the status quo.

The MSC tracks and monitors the impact of the combined efforts of certified fisheries on fish stocks, fishing practices and fishery management. Our analysis shows that certified fisheries are delivering improvements in fisheries management.

 

“The MSC has shown over twenty years that its approach can make a significant contribution to ocean conservation.”

John Tanzer, Practice Leader, Oceans WWF International
Watch video

Sustainable Seas: what is the MSC Fisheries Standard and how does it ensure healthy oceans

10:15

Third party assessment

Assessment to the MSC Fisheries Standard is a rigorous, science-based process. 

The MSC does not assess fisheries. This is the job of a third party independent assessment team made up of experts in fisheries management. They consult everyone with an interest in the fishery – from retailers to NGOs to governing bodies. This ensures that all information is considered and that outcomes are based on evidence. All evidence, decisions and reports are published on fisheries.msc.org.

Once certified, fisheries are audited annually to ensure that they are maintaining the required level of sustainability and meeting any conditions of MSC certification.

 

Traceable from ocean to plate

Ocean to plate graphic

Seafood with the blue MSC label can be traced along the supply chain back to a sustainable source.

Anyone selling MSC certified seafood must follow strict rules to ensure that it is kept separately from other fish and is clearly labelled at all times. We carry out  DNA testing and unannounced tracebacks to verify the system works. 

DNA testing in 2016 showed that 99.6% of MSC labelled seafood is correctly labelled. This can be compared to global analysis which suggested that, on average, 30% of seafood products are incorrectly described or labelled.

 

Knowing where food comes from is becoming increasingly important to consumers. I am genuinely encouraged to see the results from the latest study by the MSC, demonstrating that its ecolabel is not only the gold standard for sustainability, but also for traceability.

Dr Bryce Beukers-Stewart, Fisheries Scientist University of York, UK

Don’t just take our word for it

The MSC is the only international seafood labelling program to be recognised by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) which confirms that we meet the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s guidelines.  

The MSC is also an member of ISEAL, the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance, requiring compliance with their  highly regarded Codes for Standard-Setting, Assurance and Impact Monitoring.

Organisations such as WWF recommend consumers look for the MSC label on seafood.

 

Find out more about how we meet best practice on our main website, msc.org

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Close-up of frozen prawn, pollock and lobster products with the blue MSC label

What does the blue MSC label mean?

The blue fish label is only applied to wild fish or seafood from fisheries that have been certified to the MSC standard, a scientific measure of sustainable fishing.

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Real life stories

The best way to understand the impact of the MSC program is through those involved. Read about the passionate people taking care of our oceans.

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