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Our Developing World Program

Our Developing World Program aims to ensure the MSC program and its benefits are accessible to all fisheries, regardless of size or region.

The fishing industry is critically important in the developing world:

  • More than half of fish exports by value, and 60% by quantity, originate in developing countries. (UNFAO 2016) 
  • Hundreds of millions of people – approximately one in ten - rely on fishing for their livelihoods (UNFAO 2014) 

However, many fisheries in developing countries operate in areas where catch levels and threats to marine biodiversity and local economies are high.

The MSC recognises that these fisheries can often face additional challenges when becoming sustainable and MSC certified, these may include:

  • low awareness of the MSC
  • poor fisheries management
  • lack of government support
  • lack of data

Through our experience working in developing countries, we're able to identify challenges and work on solutions to overcome them.

What the Developing World Program does

Raise awareness

We engage with a wide range of stakeholders including governments, non-governmental organisations, the fishing industry and seafood businesses to raise awareness of our program.   

In 2015 we established the Global Fisheries Sustainability Fund, which has so far awarded more than £400,000 in funding to research projects that support critical fishery science research in small scale and developing world fisheries.

Watch video

Our fisheries, our future: sustainable fishing in the developing world


Increase accessibility of the MSC Fisheries Standard

To ensure the MSC Fisheries Standard is applicable to small-scale and developing country fisheries we have developed guidance for clarifying how informal and traditional management approaches should be considered in assessments.

We have also developed tools to identify the gaps and barriers that fisheries experience.  

We provide toolkits and training to equip stakeholders in developing countries with the knowledge and skills required to implement successful Fishery Improvement Projects.

Developing world fisheries account for around 8% of the total of MSC certified fisheries and 11% of fisheries in assessment. 

More than 40 developing world fisheries have had pre-assessment and/or are engaging in a Fishery Improvement Project with partners.

Ensure developing world interests are represented

We also seek to ensure that the perspectives of small-scale and data-deficient fisheries are considered in MSC policy development. We encourage stakeholders to provide input and shape MSC policy during our public consultation periods.  

If you have questions about the Developing World Program contact



Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)  
Our approach to fisheries with limited data 
Global Fisheries Sustainability Fund (GFSF)  
Capacity Building Program 
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