This 2017 review on the 20th anniversary of the Marine Stewardship Council program looks at the progress and improvements made by MSC certified fisheries around the world.
The report details that currently “12% of global marine wild catch is MSC certified, a figure that has doubled since 2010” and that “in December 2016, 296 fisheries in 35 countries are certified as sustainable to the MSC Fisheries Standard, demonstrating their commitment to healthy ecosystems and the long-term sustainability of fish stocks.”
In terms of improvements, which were grouped into four broad categories; research, impact assessment, technical and governance, the report finds that “94% of MSC certified fisheries have been required to make at least one improvement to strengthen or further monitor the sustainability of their practices, resulting in 1,238 examples of change since 2000.” Improvements in habitats’ management were assessed and the report finds “117 unique actions were identified, contributing to improvements in habitat status, management and information in 39 fisheries.” On the topic of habitat conservation, the report found “over the last 15 years, 18 MSC certified fisheries have changed the way they fish to avoid vulnerable habitats, and 35 have undertaken new research to fill ecological knowledge gaps.”
Comparisons of recent stock health with values from 2000, when none of the stocks examined were MSC certified in the report shows “that stocks have higher biomass in years following certification in nearly all regions.” This means that “MSC certified fisheries target stocks with healthy biomass and are being fished at sustainable rates” and suggests that “either a desire to obtain MSC certification incentivised better stock stewardship, or that the MSC label was sought as recognition of efforts made to recover stocks to healthy levels of biomass.” However, the report shows “the biomass of a handful of certified stocks does fall below the dotted line [healthy stock indicator]. Where this means that the stock is below the lower limit of acceptable values the MSC Standard requires the fishery to provide evidence that the stock is rebuilding.” Another point made in the report is that “where stock status is already on target, fisheries often make other improvements to achieve and maintain MSC certification, such as introducing new monitoring programs or gear changes to ensure the protection of vulnerable species and habitats”.
To read the original, full report, click below