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New MSC Report Holds Certification Responsible For Spearheading Sustainable Fishing

MSC report presents governments, industry and NGOs with evidence for credible certification as a powerful tool to catalyse and secure improvements in marine fisheries

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The Global Impacts Reports 2017 was recently released by the Marine Stewardship Council, which focused on Sustainable Development Goal 14, which refers to the sustainable use of oceans and conservation of aquatic life, and spoke about how certification was essential in pursuing this SDG. According to Rupert Howes, Chief Executive at MSC, “these reports have documented a range of improvements from increased biomass of target species, to bycatch reductions, new scientific understanding and a range of positive economic benefits for engaged fisheries and supply chain partners.” According to the 2017 report, MSC certified fisheries “target healthy or recovering fish stocks, target larger populations of fish in the years following certification and show less variability in the sustainability of target fish stocks than their non-certified peers.”

MSC report presents governments, industry and NGOs with evidence for credible certification as a powerful tool to catalyse and secure improvements in marine fisheries.

“The MSC program provides both recognition and incentive for responsible ocean stewardship,” said Howes, adding that “Twenty years since the creation of the MSC, certified fisheries today account for 12 percent of the global marine catch. MSC certified fisheries are targeting healthy and well-managed stocks. They are also safeguarding marine habitats and ecosystems through ongoing commitments to improve their performance” and that “the market for certified sustainable and labelled seafood is worth over US$5 billion and the program is widely recognised as the most rigorous and credible indicator of environmental sustainability and traceability in the seafood sector.”

According to David Agnew, Science and Standards Director at MSC, “Our theory of change holds that consumer desire and market demand encourage fisheries to achieve MSC certification and that the efforts of these fisheries to demonstrate sustainability results in positive on the water change”.  He added that “Investing in science and research has been a key part of the MSC’s journey over the past 20 years. Formally established in 2013, our monitoring and evaluation (M&E) team tracks the impacts of our program and evaluates how effectively we are delivering our mission.”

As per the report, “94 per cent of MSC certified fisheries have been required to make at least one improvement to strengthen or further monitor the sustainability of their practices, resulting in 1,238 examples of change since 2000. MSC certified fisheries have funded 46 new scientific research projects as part of the actions taken to ensure sustainable impacts on habitats”

The MSC’s goal is for 20 percent of all wild-caught seafood to come from fisheries engaged in the MSC program by 2020. The report demonstrates that with the correct incentives and actions, fisheries can achieve the sustainable performance required to meet the SDGs.

In order for these initiatives to have an impact at scale, the MSC encourages the international community meeting at the UN to support market-based incentive mechanisms, including certification, as an essential tool to contribute to realising the SDGs. Consumers can do their part by choosing MSC-certified seafood.

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Sustainable Development Goals fishing