Sustainable fishing practices are having lasting impact on fish stocks and marine ecosystems, in part due to successful voluntary certification schemes such as that of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The organization’s latest Annual Report, released today, highlights growth in MSC-certified fisheries and supply chain.
Between April 2015 and March 2016, MSC-certified fisheries caught more than 9.3 million metric tonnes of seafood, representing almost 10 percent of the total global wild-caught seafood by volume. Compared to the previous year, the volume of MSC-certified catch increased by six percent and the MSC-certified supply chain climbed 16 percent.
Over the same period, the number of processors, restaurants and caterers with MSC Chain of Custody grew from 2,879 to 3,334 companies, operating in 37,121 sites across 82 countries. More than 20,000 products now carry the blue MSC label and can be traced back to fisheries which meet the MSC’s world-class standard for sustainable fishing. DNA test results have proven that MSC products are being accurately traced and labelled.
And consumers are eating it up – this summer, the largest-ever global analysis of attitudes toward seafood consumption found that sustainability is a key driver for seafood purchases. Across 21 countries, sustainability is rated more highly than price and brand, with nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of seafood consumers agreeing that in order to save the oceans, shoppers should only consume seafood from sustainable sources. More than half (54 percent) said they are prepared to pay more for a certified sustainable seafood product.
“Accelerated growth in the MSC certified supply chain, and more MSC labelled products, demonstrate a growing demand for traceable, sustainable seafood,” said MSC CEO, Rupert Howes. “More retailers and brands are choosing to use the MSC label to communicate their commitment to sustainability. Their leadership is helping to drive a chain reaction, from ocean to plate. From certified ﬁshers to seafood consumers, everyone plays a vital part in ensuring that our oceans are thriving for generations to come.”
Stories from some of the 38 newly-certified fisheries are also included, with several significant firsts: the 2015-16 year saw the world’s first MSC-certified octopus fishery, the first MSC certification for a Canadian Atlantic cod stock, and the first MSC-certified tuna fishery in China.
MSC plans to deliver new tools and approaches to make its programs more accessible to small-scale and developing world fisheries, including a formal framework for fisheries in transition to meet MSC certification requirements. Further, Howes says MSC is working with partners to provide greater assurance that “internationally accepted norms for labor practices” are being met by MSC-certified fisheries and supply chain companies.