Sustainable fishing improves impacts on ocean ecosystems and vulnerable marine life as UN calls for urgent action to avoid loss of marine biodiversity


WASHINGTON, June 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the non-profit organization with a mission to end overfishing, today announced that 100 improvements have been made by MSC-certified fisheries in 2020, directly addressing issues related to endangered, threatened and protected species, among others. MSC program fisheries have a long-term commitment to sustainability, and improvements are key to achieving and maintaining certification.

Among the improvements were those made by the U.S. North Pacific halibut fishery, which worked with federal fisheries managers on innovative methods, such as implementing heatmaps, to document fishing effort and catch composition on bycatch and discards from a specific segment of the halibut fishery. (those less than 40 feet in length). The fishery has been successful in generating data that has demonstrated a limited risk of bycatch, and data continues to be collected to detect any increased risk to key bycatch species. Gathering more information from the smaller vessels in this halibut fishery ensures that any risk to bycatch species is considered.

In other parts of the world, notable improvements include those made by a Australian tuna fishery which introduced mitigation tools and electronic monitoring on all vessels to minimize damage to protected species, and a Canadian Haddock Fishery which has put in place new measures to help the recovery of the thorny ray, classified as vulnerable.

Fifteen of the overall improvements have improved the understanding and management of impacts on local ecosystems and habitats. These included a Icelandic shrimp fishery who has supported research into mapping the seabed in an effort to avoid harm to delicate groups of deep-sea sponges. Twenty improvements were also made to fisheries management and 11 to the status of targeted fish stocks.

This progress comes at a time of growing concern about the unprecedented pressures facing our oceans. As a recent United Nations assessment report points out,1 there are many areas where urgent action is needed to avoid losing marine biodiversity, – tackling overfishing being a central recommendation to address these losses.

“Unsustainable fishing practices pose a serious threat to the biodiversity and productivity of our oceans. Yet we know that with proper management, depleted stocks and damaged ecosystems can recover,” said Dr. Rohan CurryHead of Science and Standards at MSC.

“More than 400 MSC-certified fisheries around the world are already leading the way in best practice. Often working closely with local agencies and scientific bodies, they also help drive research and innovation, adding to the body of knowledge in fisheries science.

“As we enter this crucial United Nations Decade for Ocean Science, it is essential that we accelerate collaboration and progress across the world if we are to achieve long-term sustainable ocean results.”

To be certified as sustainable, fisheries must meet stringent requirements set by the MSC. But many fisheries also have certification requirements imposed on them, meaning they have to make improvements to some of their practices within a set time frame. In this way, fisheries engaged in the MSC program are incentivized to improve their performance against global best practice.

Since the first fisheries were assessed for MSC certification in 1999, nearly 2,000 improvements have been made by fisheries to remain certified.2 The positive contribution these fisheries make to protecting the ocean was recognized by two UN bodies in 20203showing that MSC-certified fisheries are at the forefront of fighting overfishing and supporting ocean biodiversity.

On World Oceans Day and throughout June as National Oceans Month in the United States, the MSC reminds consumers that their purchasing decisions can have a positive impact on what happens to the water. Ocean health and climate change are among the top three environmental concerns of the American public, and younger generations, those between the ages of 18 and 34, are especially motivated to take action to help protect seafood for the ‘to come up. They are also much more aware of the eco-label and willing to pay more for certified sustainable seafood.4 Through its ‘Little Blue Label, Big Blue Future’ consumer engagement campaign, MSC reminds conscious consumers that by simply choosing to buy seafood bearing the MSC Blue Fish label, they can be part of the solution and contribute to healthy oceans.

“The next five years for our ocean depends on the buying decisions consumers make today,” shared Jackie Marks, senior public relations officer at MSC. “The future health of our shared ocean and an end to overfishing depend on the collective actions of a global community.”

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization. Our vision is that the world’s oceans teem with life and that seafood supplies are preserved for this generation and future generations. Our blue label and certification program recognizes and rewards sustainable fishing practices and helps create a more sustainable seafood market. It is the only certification and eco-labeling program for wild capture fisheries that meets the best practice requirements established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO) and ISEAL, l global membership association for sustainability standards. Fisheries representing more than 17% of the world’s wild marine catch are engaged in its certification program and more than 18,000 different products carrying the MSC label are available on shelves around the world*. (*figures correct as of March 31, 2020). For more information, visit or follow @MSCBlueFish on social media.

1 United Nations Second World Ocean Assessment (WOA II) April 2021
Throughout the life of the MSC certification program (1999 – March 31, 2021), there were a total of 1,931 improvements to closure conditions made by MSC-certified fisheries.
3 In June 2020 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has indicated that sustainable fisheries are more productive and resilient to change (page 8 State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture). In September 2021 the United Nations Environment Program has reported that (pages 58-63 The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5) sustainable fisheries protect ocean biodiversity.
4 MSC and GlobeScan Seafood Consumer Perceptions Study 2020

SOURCE Marine Stewardship Council

Related links


Comments are closed.