After years of overfishing led to the collapse of Canada’s cod stock in 1992 and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, the topic of overfishing has attracted a lot of attention worldwide. For this reason, the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever had joined forces to develop standards for certified sustainable fisheries. To this end, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) was established in 1997. MSC has two standards, namely the fisheries standard (for fisheries for wild marine or freshwater organisms) and a traceability standard (for all companies in the supply chain). In 2001 the first fisheries achieved MSC certification and the label was found on several products. Over the years, the MSC standards have undergone several developments.
The Fisheries standard
If a fishery wants to be MSC certified, it is assessed against 28 indicators, spread over 3 principles, namely sustainable fish stocks, minimal impact on other marine life, and effective fisheries management. According to MSC, the core principle of sustainable fish stocks means that “fishing should be carried out at a level that allows fisheries to continue indefinitely and fish stocks remain productive and healthy“. By minimal impact on other marine life, MSC means that “fisheries must be managed carefully so that other marine life and their habitat remain healthy“. Effective fisheries management, according to MSC, means that “MSC certified fisheries must comply with and enforce relevant laws. They must also be able to adapt to changing environmental conditions that affect the size of the fish stock“.
Below are 3 videos from MSC that clearly explain the three ore principles: