Sustainability certification works in the seas, study finds

Fisheries engaged in the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) programme show clear improvements in environmental performance throughout the whole certification process, according to an independent study released last week.

The study, Researching the Environmental Impacts of the MSC Certification Programme, is the first ever to examine fishery performance through the MSC assessment process. It focused on improvements in eight key outcome performance indicators: stock status; population reference points; stock recovery; retained species; bycatch species; endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species; habitats and environments.

Improvements were noted from the initial fishery pre-assessments, through assessment and certification. Five years after certification, over 90 percent of the performance indicators measured were achieving high scores.

Good for the environment and good for fisheries

“This study shows that the MSC certification system works well, that it measures the performance of a fishery based on marine conservation indicators in the oceans, and that it values the feedback from stakeholders in this process,” said Alfred Schumm, Leader Smart Fishing Initiative, WWF’s global fisheries programme. “As such, I believe that the MSC certification system is outweighing other existing seafood certification systems currently on the market.”

In addition to ensuring the robust process of each fishery undergoing certification, WWF wanted the study to measure the environmental impacts of the MSC standards in the oceans. The results showed that MSC is also the only seafood standard which can prove that certification is also good for the environment and not only for the fisheries.

Healthy, well-managed and full of life

WWF has a vision for the world’s oceans: that they are healthy, well-managed and full of life, providing valuable resources for the welfare of humanity. In order to help achieve this vision WWF formed the Smart Fishing Global Initiative (SFI), that participates in certification programmes like the MSC to ensure that responsible management and trade of four key fishery populations results in recovering and resilient marine eco-systems, improved livelihoods for coastal communities and strengthened food security for the Planet.

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