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MSC Celebrates 20 Years, Looks Ahead to the Future with New Targets, Consumer Campaign

Image Credit: Marine Stewardship Council

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has released a special edition of its Annual Report, describing two decades of driving change on the water. More than 400 fisheries, landing 14 percent of global marine catch by volume, are now engaged in the MSC program. MSC Chain of Custody certification has been granted to 42,320 sites and in the last financial year, consumers bought 730,860 tons of MSC labeled seafood, in a market worth $5.6 billion. The report also outlines MSC’s plans for the future, which include an ambitious target to engage 20 percent of marine catch by 2020 and a new initiative that will increase consumer awareness of the blue MSC label and add value to MSC certified sustainable fisheries.

“This high level of engagement in the MSC’s program drives real and lasting change in the way our oceans are fished and would not have been possible without the commitment and leadership of our partners and the generosity of our funders,” said Rupert Howes, CEO of the MSC. “The MSC is determined to remain a leading catalyst for improved fisheries management, contributing to the sustainable use of our oceans and supporting food security and livelihoods in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

A total of 315 fisheries are now certified in 34 countries. In the Northeast Pacific, 80 percent of wild catch is certified sustainable by the MSC. For key species, such as salmon, prawn, flatfish and whitefish, certification is becoming the norm with between 40 and 70 percent of global wild catch engaged in the program. In 2016–2017, the first Finnish fishery, Baltic herring and sprat, entered the program and the first combined commercial and recreational fishery, Peel-Harvey blue swimmer crab Fishery, was MSC certified. The MSC was also involved in supporting international commitments to protect arctic habitats, tuna traceability and ocean stewardship by the world’s largest seafood producers.

According to the report, more than 1,200 documented improvements have been made by certified fisheries. These have delivered more stable biomass, reduced bycatch and improved management through better scientific understanding. The MSC says it will continue to incentivize improvements in fisheries worldwide in order to achieve SDG 14 — to conserve and sustainably use oceans — and to maintain the rigor and robustness of its Standard through periodic review.

“Our oceans remain under enormous pressure. While there is no silver bullet, we know that credible market-based programs like the MSC have an important role to play in the solution. Looking to the future, we are planning a significant increase in engagement with fisheries that interact with species and ecosystems currently underrepresented in our program, particularly in the Global South,” explained Howes. “The MSC’s goals are to have 20 percent of the global wild catch engaged in the MSC program by 2020 and at least a third by 2030. We will achieve this by working with our partners, through deeper engagement with key fisheries and by building demand for sustainable seafood in markets that offer the biggest incentives to drive change on the water.”

View the full infographic.

Businesses are increasingly showing their commitment to sustainability by sourcing MSC certified seafood: at least 77 major retailers, 14 brands and 17 food-service companies have made public pledges to source MSC certified seafood to date. In addition to the publication of its 20th Annual Report, the MSC has launched a major consumer engagement campaign in 21 countries, which will run until April 2018.

Campaigns will engage consumers through the personal stories of the ‘Wild Ones’ — fishers, chefs, retailers, sports professionals and others passionate about sustainability and seafood. Accompanying this are MSC certified seafood recipes and real-life stories from fishers that have achieved MSC certification, all of which are hosted on a new consumer-focused website.

“By focusing on the people involved in the sustainability journey from ocean to plate, the MSC aims to inspire seafood consumers to choose the ‘blue fish’ and ensure healthy oceans, and fishing as a way of life for generations to come,” said Sarah Bladen, Global Marketing and Communications Director at the MSC. “This campaign is designed to showcase the hard work and dedication of our partners and provide compelling materials to help promote certified, sustainable seafood, recognizing the important role that consumers play. This demonstrates an evolution of the MSC from a largely B2B program to driving consumer demand for sustainable seafood.”


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