msc certified fish

The Marine Stewardship Council has used its 20th anniversary today (25 April) to unveil an ambitious new plan for more than a third of the global marine catch to be MSC-certified or engaged in the certification process by 2030.

Some 12% of the global marine catch is currently certified to the MSC fisheries standard, rising to 14% when including fisheries engaged in the MSC certification process.

The MSC said it would increase certification by focusing its efforts on ecosystems currently under-represented in the MSC programme, but where catches and the threat to biodiversity are high. In addition to tuna and small pelagic species, new priority species will include squid, octopus, crab and seaweed.

The NGO would also deliver new tools to better enable fisheries in the so-called Global South, or Third World, to progress towards MSC certification, it said, and would maintain its focus on “efforts to ensure we continue to meet global best practice in sustainable fisheries management”.

For example, new measures would be introduced on labour practices, along with new tools and systems to make the certification process more efficient, credible and user-friendly, such as digital auditing tools.

The MSC has also pledged to deepen engagement with key commercial partners and focus on building demand in markets that offered the biggest incentives to drive change on the water. This included European markets of Germany, the UK, France, Spain and Italy, as well as the US, China and Japan.

“Twenty years ago, the MSC was a bold new idea developed by WWF and Unilever to address the challenge of unsustainable fishing,” said MSC CEO Rupert Howes. “They wanted to create a market-based mechanism that would connect seafood producers and consumers through a credible third party certification and labelling programme.”

Howes added there was growing evidence “real improvements” were being delivered in fisheries around the world, with MSC-certified fisheries delivering demonstrable improvements, managing healthy fish stocks and minimising their impact on the environment.

“While there is much to celebrate, there is also a growing sense of urgency to address unsustainable fishing and deliver sustainable development goals,” Howes added. “This is a critical time for our oceans. The MSC’s new strategy prioritises those parts of the world, species and markets that can have the most significant impact on the health of our oceans.”

Tesco milestone

It comes as Tesco this week achieved its 100th MSC-labelled product with the launch of a Tesco Finest bettered haddock and mushy pea fishcake (rsp: £2.50/315g).

The listing follows a concerted push by Tesco to increase its availability of MSC-certified seafood with 80 new products added in the past year alone - helping Tesco rise from seventh to third in the NGO’s annual sustainable seafood league table.

“The MSC’s logo reassures our customers that the fish is caught in a sustainable way that prevents over-fishing and protects the marine environment,” said seafood buying manager Champagne Cleary. “Tesco has taken this step to help protect the future of our seas and ensure that customers in the future can enjoy great quality fish in the way we do today.”

Tesco had made “great progress” on sustainable sourcing during the past couple of years, said Toby Middleton, MSC programme director for the North East Atlantic. “Its drive to add MSC-labelled products to its range, including over 650 fish counters, is great news for customers and the environment.”