WWF-Canada Blog:
Oceans


WWF chooses MSC and you should, too!

The Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) fishery standard is captured in three simple and clear principles for sustainable fishing — target fish stock health, ecosystem impacts of the fishery, and effective management.  These are followed by hundreds of pages of assessment templates, appendices, and guidance documents — not for the faint of heart! — filled with explicit, detailed and technical information. But that is the crux of the MSC – it is a simple concept, underpinned by a rigorous, science-based, and transparent methodology, which strives for continuous improvement.

For most of you, it boils down to a simple choice – just like Bob, you can rest assured that choosing the blue MSC logo when you buy seafood leads to healthier oceans.

For those brave enough to soldier on, here are some more of those technical details! On October 1, after two years of intense consultations with the public, including WWF, and additional research commissioned for the review, the MSC released its updated standard. The revised document, now called Fisheries Certification Requirements contains a number of improvements in line with new scientific understanding and best management practices recognized globally; it now meets WWF’s minimum sustainability expectations.

Among other changes, the updated Requirements:

  • Outline special considerations to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as coral gardens, sponge grounds, seagrass beds, or sea mounts.
  • Ensure the reduction of cumulative impacts on bycaught species, including endangered, threatened and protected species.
  • Enable target stocks to flourish around the maximum sustainable yield and oblige all involved fisheries to reduce the cumulative fishing pressure to sustainable levels.
  • Exclude shark finning and slave labor conditions on board all certified vessels.
  • Motivate constant improvement of fisheries and reduction of fisheries impacts.
  • Create an independent Peer Review College to provide a more standardized and effective peer review process.

The recently released 2014 Global Impacts Report from MSC illustrates the positive outcomes that the MSC has had on fisheries from 1999-2013. Among other successes, it has been shown that engagement in the MSC leads to lower habitat and ecosystem impacts, healthier stocks, no serious or irreversible harm to endangered, threatened and protected species, and a very high level of integrity and assurance related to seafood product labelling. Over 10% of the world’s fisheries are MSC certified or under full assessment – in Canada, it’s over 60%! — and that number will certainly grow.

This latest analysis, combined with the newly updated Requirements, makes us confident that MSC is the most credible wild capture fisheries certification standard; that’s why we choose MSC and why you should, too!