The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent non-profit organisation which has developed a standard for sustainable fishing practices. Their aim is to use their certification programme to highlight the need to improve and maintain the health of our oceans and the fisheries which are exploited there. The MSC encourages the use of their ‘blue tick’ ecolabel to recognise fisheries certified to the standard, in this way they raise awareness and influence consumer’s choices about sustainability when buying seafood.

Founded in 1999, the MSC developed and set a standard for sustainable fisheries which has now become an internationally recognised benchmark for well managed fisheries operating to sustainable practices. Over this time there has been an increasing focus and growing market for sustainable seafood which has provided the incentive for many fisheries around the world to demonstrate they are fishing sustainably through engagement with the MSC programme.

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Any fishery may engage in the MSC environmental standard, regardless of scale, fishing method, location and management. For a fishery to be certified as sustainable under the MSC standard it must meet minimum key performance indicators under the three main principles of the standard.

Principle 1: The sustainability of the fishery – Fishing must be at a level considered sustainable for the targeted stock.

Principle 2: The environmental impact – Fishing should be adequately controlled to maintain the state of the ecosystem in which the fishery is conducted.

Principle 3: The fishery management –The fishery must demonstrate effective management and regulation and must be able to respond to changing conditions to maintain sustainability.


Stakeholders wishing to certify a fishery will engage in the MSC assessment process as ‘clients.’ The assessment to the MSC standard is undertaken by an independent third party, the certifier. Usually, a pre-assessment is carried out first which provides the fishery client with a report on the readiness of the fishery for full assessment. Once ready, a full assessment will then be undertaken by a certifier to determine whether the fishery meets the MSC standard.


Contacts and further info:

The MSC has a comprehensive website which provides a wealth of information about the organisation, the standard, certified fisheries and fisheries in the programme, guides and processes of engagement. 


Some useful further links:

More detailed information on the fishery standard: click here

Guidelines and information for fisheries interested in the MSC programme: click here 

Finding an approved certifier:click here

Information updates: click here

Contacting the MSC: click here

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