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.”
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
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.
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.
Reports and guides
- ThisFish Eco-Rating Guide
- Dutch Independent Institute Mileu Centraal, comparison of 90 ecolabels in the Netherlands (2016)
- WWF Report: Comparison of Wild Capture Fisheries Certification Schemes (Accenture Development Partnerships, 2012)
- Estimating the economic benefits of MSC certification for the South African hake trawl fishery (Lallemand et al, 2016)
- From certification to recertification the benefits and challenges of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC): A case study using lobsters (Bellchambers et al, 2015)
- Authority without credibility? Competition and conflict between ecolabels in tuna fisheries (Miller & Bush, 2015)
- An Evaluation of Environmental Changes Within Fisheries Involved in the Marine Stewardship Council Certification Scheme (Martin et al, 2012)
- Eco-label conveys reliable information on fish stock health to seafood consumers (Gutierrez et al, 2012)