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Marine Stewardship Council Streamlines Standards

Words by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
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The need for sustainable seafood is great. Overfishing is a global problem with about 90 percent of the world’s fisheries either fully exploited, overexploited or collapsed. The world’s fishing fleet is operating at 2.5 times the sustainable level, and several key commercial fish populations have declined to the extent that their survival is threatened. That makes sustainability standards for seafood, such as Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), very important. And MSC has recently updated its Chain of Custody Standard.

MSC’s new Chain of Custody Standards are now “more streamlined, clear and accessible,” as a press statement puts it. The new requirements are designed to make it easier for restaurants, fishmongers and caterers to use them. Published on February 20, the updated Standards will apply to all MSC Chain of Custody audits from September 1, 2015 onwards.

“The updates announced today are the result of a year-long consultation with industry representatives,” said David Agnew, Standards Director at the MSC. “They mean that the MSC scheme is more straightforward and applicable to different companies along the supply chain. Additionally, a separate version of the standard now gives greater access to businesses at the end of the supply chain, allowing them to meet growing consumer demands for sustainable and traceable seafood products.”

Some of the key changes to the Standard include:

  • Clear requirements for identification and traceability of certified product.

  • More specific requirements for companies to confirm the certified status of products upon receipt, and to ensure they only purchase from certified suppliers.

  • Greater emphasis on competency of staff in meeting the Standard, and more emphasis on interviews during audit, in addition to checking training records.

Organizations now have three versions of the MSC Chain of Custody Standard to be certified in:

  • There is the default option for single or multi-site organizations trading certified seafood.

  • There is the group option for organizations with a central office function and many locations trading certified seafood such as franchises.

  • There is the consumer facing option for retailers, restaurants, caterers, fish mongers or fresh fish counters selling or serving certified seafood directly to consumers.

MSC certification is the gold standard in sustainable seafood certification. Over 2,800 organizations in more than 75 countries have a Chain of Custody certificate. The organizations possessing the certificates handle over 28,000 MSC labeled products in over 100 countries. In other words, MSC certification has a global impact. And that impact means that an MSC Chain of Custody certified product comes only from wild-capture fisheries certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard. Consumers who see the MSC eco-label know the seafood they are buying does not contribute to overfishing. And for all seafood lovers who also love the environment, that is a win-win situation.

Photo: Alpha

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

Read more stories by Gina-Marie Cheeseman