© WWF

Credible certification

Leading seafood businesses involved in the production and trade of wild-caught fish and seafood are increasingly participating in voluntary certification schemes such as the Marine Stewardship Certification (MSC) programme, which sets standards, against which fisheries can become certified, if an independent auditor finds them to be compliant.

The standards aim to improve fishing practices whilst reducing their ecological and social impacts. Both industrial and small-scale fisheries, can benefit from better market access if they are MSC certified.

WWF participated in the latest review of the MSC standard to ensure it would meet WWF´s sustainability criteria. The new standard strengthens provisions requiring that the fish stock is maintained in healthy condition and introduces new safeguards for sensitive and vulnerable marine and coastal habitats, such as coral gardens, sponge grounds, seagrass beds, biogenic-reefs or sea mounts. Assessments will require more and better quality information on the impacts of fishing on habitats which will feed into fishery management conditions.

"Increased buying from the best fisheries should become a condition of doing business, and persuade other fisheries to opt for responsible fishing practices."

Alfred Schumm, leader WWF´s Smart Fishing Initiative

New MSC standard

becomes mandatory for fisheries entering MSC assessments from 1 April 2015, and will apply to reassessments from 2017 but WWF is encouraging all fisheries to apply the new standard voluntarily from now onwards.

What WWF is doing

Traceability, both through voluntary market engagement and legislation provides positive incentives for fishermen to move towards sustainable fishing practices. Growing market demand for certified sustainable seafood will stimulate positive market transformation. A traceability system that tracks fish from the water to our plate contributes significantly to eradicating illegal fishing practices and will help to create a global healthy, fair market.

WWF supports a robust MSC certification programme that delivers clear, tangible conservation results. We work with fishing companies and the seafood sector to improve transparency of sourcing fish throughout the whole supply chain. This means that we collaborate with fisheries to improve their fishing operations and move towards MSC certification, and that we help assess a company´s supply chain policy towards sourcing 100% MSC-certified seafood.


Impact on the water

Find out about the solutions to safeguard tuna and whitefish stocks, and how WWF engages with business partners to transform the seafood market. Click on the icons below.  
Whitefish Tuna      

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Since 1999, the MSC programme works to tip global seafood markets towards sustainability by certifying responsibly managed wild-fisheries, and making sustainable seafood globally available. MSC is currently the best available certification system for wild-caught fisheries and fish products on the market that sets principles to assess whether a fishery is sustainable and well-managed.

Over 25,000 products currently carry the MSC ecolabel whilst over 352 fisheries are engaged in the MSC programme. Together, these fisheries land over 10 million metric tons of seafood annually, or about 11% of global wild harvest.  Recent data from the MSC and the FAO indicates that 52% of global whitefish production, and 12.65% of global tuna production are MSC certified (August 2013).

Read the most recent 
MSC Facts and Figures
	© Michael Cockerham/MSC
MSC-certified mackerel for sale on the fish counter of a UK supermarket
© Michael Cockerham/MSC

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