Module 16: Innovations in Fishery Conservation and Sustainability
Case Study: The Marine Stewardship Council(1)
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is committed to creating sustainable seafood resources. It is a global organization that works with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups, and the public to promote awareness about environmentally sustainable seafood choices. The MSC is dedicated to creating sustainable fisheries using market-based incentives.
MSC has a fishery certification program and seafood eco-label which recognize and reward groups for their adherence to sustainable fishing practices. The eco-labeling program works to ensure that MSC-labeled seafood comes from and can be traced to a sustainable fishery. The MSC ecolabelling program ensures the highest standards of sustainable fishing, following both the UN Food and Agriculture Organization guidelines and the IDEAL Code of Good Practice. The certification program is also assessed by a third party to deem well-managed, responsible fishery sustainability.
When consumers see the blue ecolabel, they have assurance that the product does not contribute to the problem of overfishing and the consequences associated with such practices. Currently, the only way for consumers to feel confident that a fishery is sustainable is to see that it is a member of MSC and has the MSC blue stamp of approval. The fisheries that are part of MSC undergo a rigorous evaluation process so that MSC can ensure consumers that every fish that comes from one of its suppliers can be tracked from sea to table. Large retailers such as Walmart have committed to only selling MSC-certified seafood. The goal of MSC is to reward the most responsibly-managed fisheries in the world. By teaching people of all ages about the meaning of sustainability, they are not only maintaining business for the fisheries, they are instilling a sense of responsibility and awareness of the dangers of overfishing in the next generation. The MSC program is supported by some of the largest environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund, Consumer Choice Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Audubon Society.