Fisheries certification

WWF supports the work of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), currently the best available certification programme on the market that helps to maintain healthy fish stocks and reduce impacts on the global marine ecosystem. 

Our support include:
  • working with the fishing sector, governments, and other NGOs to identify fisheries that could seek MSC certification based on their sustainability and performance
  • contributing technically to the assessment and stakeholder processes of fisheries seeking MSC certification, and pushing for further improvements to ecosystem impacts. 
  • assisting the MSC in developing relationships with other conservation organizations and fisheries stakeholders in all key markets and regions.
  • promoting the uptake of MSC certified seafood with companies 
Recent certified fisheries that WWF supports, include:  

Certification of the largest prawn fishery in Australia

In 2012, Australia´s Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF), the largest prawn fishery in Australia, earned MSC certification.  WWF supported the assessment, providing technical and financial assistance throughout the full certification process. The certified fishery spans three Australian states with an annual catch of 8000 mt of prawns, and has led many regional initiatives of prawn fisheries. 

Fiji´s first certified sustainable tuna fishery

The Fiji Albacore Tuna Longline Fishery of the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Assocation recently became the first to achieve MSC certification, which hopefully will set the standard for other longline tuna fisheries in the region. This certification means an important first step towards ensuring the social, cultural and economic health of Pacific island countries that depend on tuna for their income and livelihood. The Association committed to establishing benchmark values that help managers decide how the fishery is performing, and a harvest strategy, that helps maintain sustainable fishing levels. The fishery also implemented a management strategy to ensure recovery and rebuilding of other stock species caught alongside tuna. 

First Indian Ocean Fishery certified 

The Maldives Pole and Line Skipjack Fishery obtained MSC certification in November 2012, becoming the first Indian Ocean tuna fishery to receive certification. Some 25 per cent of Skipjack tuna catch in the Indian Ocean happens through the pole and line method of which the majority comes from the Maldives. WWF has been an active player throughout the assessment and accreditation process. Tuna fishing is the only viable source of employment for more than 20.000 fishermen and their families in the region. The Maldives Fishery has been certified with eight conditions that must be met within the next five years to ensure that the fishery continues on a sustainability path. This should result in improved management at national level, and also at the level of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). 

Pacific Islands obtain MSC certification for major Skipjack tuna fishery

Also in 2012, a Skipjack tuna fishery managed by eight Pacific Island nations became MSC certified. The certification has conditionally been awarded to the Parties of the Nauru Agreement purse seine free-scholing Skipjack fishery, which is managed by the Commission of the Western and Central Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (WCPFC). The PNA has done much in developing a collaborative approach to more sustainable fisheries management. WWF welcomes the certification of this major tuna fishery and will work with the PNA, WCPFC and member states to meet conditions over the next years and help ensure the fishery can maintain its certification in future. 

 / ©: Edward Parker / WWF
Landing handline-caught MSC-certified mackerel, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
© Edward Parker / WWF

Opportunities for all

WWF is particularly concerned that small-scale fisheries have the same opportunities to participate in the MSC certification scheme as large-scale fishing interests.

We have developed a methodology for community-based certification and also have access to a number of funding mechanisms. Find out more...

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