Although 29 percent of the world’s oceans are overfished, 10 percent of global wild caught seafood comes from fisheries involved in the Marine Stewardship Council's program. Since 1999, more than 220 fisheries have undergone independent assessments of their environmental sustainability, and those who have achieved MSC certification have made hundreds of improvements to their fishing practices. MSC-certified fisheries committed to making 600 additional improvements by 2020.
Two recently released MSC reports, the Global Impacts Report 2014 and the Annual Report 2013-14, show that there are more MSC-labeled products than ever before. Over the past five years the amount of MSC-labeled products have more than doubled. More than 23,000 products from MSC-certified fisheries were available in over 100 countries -- a tenfold increased since 2009. The amount of fisheries participating in the MSC program with habitat and ecosystem impacts at or above best practice has increased from 71 percent in 2009 to 82 percent in 2013. The amount of fisheries in the MSC program with stocks mained at or above maximum sustainable levels has also jumped from 80 percent in 2009 to 94 percent in 2013.
MSC-certified fisheries benefit the environment, as examples in both reports show. Toothfish varieties, more commonly called Chilean sea bass, were viewed as overfished and at risk just a few years ago. Now, they have made turnarounds, and there has been 100 percent observer overage on vessels to ensure compliance with management regulations to prevent overfishing. Currently, 54 percent of the global toothfish supply is MSC-certified, with 16 percent more in the assessment process.
Other examples of improvements include:
Consumers also recognize the MSC label: In 2014, 36 percent of consumers in surveyed countries who bought fish at least once every two months recognized the MSC label. When consumers were shown the MSC label without text, between 20 and 58 percent recognized it, and 11 percent could accurately describe what the MSC label stands for.
Image credit: Marine Stewardship Council