The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fishery certification program and seafood ecolabel recognize and reward sustainable fishing. The MSC operates a global seafood certification program where wild capture fisheries can become certified as sustainable to the MSC standards for sustainable fishing and suppliers can receive chain of custody certification for seafood traceability standards.
Our vision is of the world’s oceans teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.
Our mission is to use our ecolabel and fishery certification program to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with our partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.
Fishery Certification | Steps to Certification | Chain of Custody Certification | Certification Bodies
Fisheries are certified against a rigorous, scientific methodology by an independent third-party accredited certifier during the MSC Full Assessment process. The MSC sustainable fisheries standard has 3 overarching principles that every fishery must prove that it meets:
The fishing activity must be at a level which is sustainable for the fish population. Any certified fishery must operate so that fishing can continue indefinitely and is not overexploiting the resources.
Fishing operations should be managed to maintain the structure, productivity, function and diversity of the ecosystem on which the fishery depends.
The fishery must meet all local, national and international laws and must have a management system in place to respond to changing circumstances and maintain sustainability.
The MSC assessment has 7 steps to certification:
The MSC has a scoring system where each of the criteria are scored individually, averaged at the principle level, and then averaged overall to determine if the fishery has passed the assessment. There are three major scoring thresholds in the MSC assessment of fisheries- 60, 80, 100.
The Marine Stewardship Council also oversees a Chain of Custody certification standard to ensure that the certified sustainable fishery products are traced throughout the supply chain. Any company wishing to sell product as MSC-certified must have MSC Chain of Custody certification for each species they wish to sell accordingly. The MSC Chain of Custody primarily assesses that processes are in place to track the MSC-certified seafood and keep it separate from non-certified seafood in the supply chain. These certifications are also completed by an independent, accredited third-party certifier and are valid for three years. Additionally, any company wishing to use the MSC ecolabel on products or restaurant / foodservice operation using the ecolabel on menus must enter into a separate Ecolabel Licensing Agreement with the MSC. There are four principles for the MSC seafood traceability standard:
The organization shall maintain documentation of their management system, which can vary in complexity based on the size, complexity, and personnel of the organization.
The organisation shall maintain records that allow any product or batch of products sold by the organisation as certified to be tracedfrom its sales invoice to a certified source and vice versa.
Certified and non-certified products shall not be mixed if the organisation wishes to make a claim about these certified products, except as in 3.1.1. The organisation shall operate a system for ensuring that packaging materials and other identification materialsbearing the MSC ecolabel cannot be used for non-certified products.
For a current list of companies accredited to certify against the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council, please visit Accreditation Services International.
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