Increasing consumer demand and a greater commitment to sustainability by the fishing industry and retailers has led the number of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) labeled products to more than double over the past five years, according to two new reports by MSC.
In 2013-2014 the retail market value of sustainable seafood carrying the MSC ecolabel reached $4.8 billion, an increase of 118 percent since 2009. More than 23,000 products from MSC certified fisheries were available in over 100 countries, a tenfold increase since 2009.
The MSC’s Global Impacts Report 2014 and Annual Report 2013-14 show improvements to marine environments being delivered by fisheries engaged in the MSC certification program. These changes are often incentivised by increased market demand and, in some cases, a price premium for sustainable seafood.
With 29 percent of the world’s oceans currently overfished, the reports show how commitments by seafood producers, retailers and consumers are delivering lasting improvements to the sustainability of marine ecosystems, fish stocks and fishing communities.
Ten percent of global wild caught seafood now comes from fisheries engaged in the MSC’s rigorous, scientific program for ensuring the long-term sustainability of marine ecosystems. Since 1999, more than 220 fisheries have undergone independent assessment of their environmental sustainability. Those achieving MSC certification have made hundreds of improvements to their fishing practices, including measures to reduce unwanted bycatch of endangered species, restore habitat and improve scientific understanding of marine ecosystems. MSC-certified fisheries have also committed to deliver a further 600 improvements by 2020.
Seafood accounts for almost 17 percent of the global population’s intake of animal protein and supports the livelihoods of around 10 percent of the world’s population. It follows that safeguarding the world’s oceans is essential if we are to maintain healthy fish populations, economies and ecosystems.
Major brands have embraced the concept of sustainable seafood and ecolabels such as MSC as a way to simultaneously clean up their supply chains and improve appeal to consumers. In 2013, McDonalds, which uses Marine Stewardship Council certified wild-caught Alaska Pollock for its Filet-O-Fish sandwich, began displaying the MSC ecolabel on product packaging, in-restaurant communications and external marketing beginning.
In August, Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced a global initiative to increase its procurement of responsibly sourced seafood and eliminate the procurement of highly vulnerable seafood species, beginning with an initial goal of responsibly sourcing more than 50 percent of its inventory by 2018.