TWO NEW reports published by The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) show the progress being made to secure the future of the world’s oceans.
With 29% 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.
10% of global wild caught seafood now comes from fisheries engaged in the MSC’s 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.
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.
Rupert Howes, Chief Executive for the MSC said:"The MSC’s vision is for the world’s oceans to be teeming with life – today, tomorrow and for future generations. These reports provide evidence that the leadership of our partners is driving real and lasting change in the way our oceans are fished. Stock status of MSC certified fisheries continue to improve, bycatch of unwanted species and seabirds continues to decline and a myriad of wider management improvements have been delivered. Everyone can help to support this positive change by choosing MSC certified sustainable seafood."
Other highlights from the MSC’s Global Impacts Report 2014 and Annual Report 2013-14 include:
- Improving performance of MSC fisheries:The sustainability performance of certified fisheries is increasing. The proportion of fisheries in the MSC program with habitat and ecosystem impacts at or above best practice has increased from 71% in 2009 to 82% in 2013.
- Increasing consumer confidence:On average, there has been an 11% increase in seafood consumers purchasing products carrying the MSC ecolabel since 2010.
- Academic studies reveal price premiums:Independent academic studies4 of retail sales have shown that MSC certification of some species draws a price premium. This includes retail price increases of 14% for MSC-certified Alaska pollock; 10% for MSC-certified haddock and 13% for MSC-certified whitefish.
- Increasing access to sustainable seafood:Fisheries from 34 counties and supply-chain businesses from 66 countries are now engaged in the MSC program.
- Enhanced engagement strategy for developing world fisheries:In February 2014, the MSC Board of Trustees adopted an enhanced engagement strategy to help developing world fisheries achieve MSC certification through Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs).