Sales Of MSC-Certified Seafood Reach One Million Tonnes

By Dayeeta Das
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Sales Of MSC-Certified Seafood Reach One Million Tonnes

Sales of seafood with the blue MSC label has reached one million tonnes per year for the first time, supported by an increase in MSC-certified seafood catch of 34% over the past five years, a recent report has revealed.

In its annual report, Working together for thriving oceans, the MSC highlighted an increasing global momentum in efforts to safeguard marine ecosystems and seafood supplies.

The demand and supply of sustainable seafood have witnessed continued growth, the report highlighted.

The MSC is responsible for the world’s leading sustainable seafood eco-label and certification programme.

'A Time For Change'

Chief executive of the MSC, Rupert Howes, said, "Our oceans are being pushed to crisis point.


"And yet this feels like a time for optimism – and a time for change. We are seeing increasing political and corporate commitment, backed by unprecedented consumer concern for our oceans. The MSC is determined to be part of the solution by working with partners across the fishing, retail, science and conservation communities."

Presently, 15% of the global marine catch is certified by MSC’s globally-recognised standard for sustainable fishing, compared with 10% in 2014. 

The MSC’s report identified several catalysts that helped drive this change. These include:

  • Growing consumer demand and availability of sustainable seafood: According to research commissioned by the MSC, 83% of seafood consumers globally agree that there is a need to protect the oceans for future generations. Shoppers now spend close to US$10 billion per year on MSC-labelled seafood. While sales remain highest in Northern Europe, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in particular, the MSC is also seeing rapid growth in sales of MSC-labelled seafood in Italy, China and Japan. With this growth and marketing initiatives by the MSC and its partners, understanding of the MSC label has increased from 32% in 2016 to 37% in 2018.
  • Response from fisheries: Globally, fisheries are responding to increased demand for certified seafood and the need to protect the oceans. The MSC continues to see growth in the number of certified sustainable fisheries from 216 in 2014 to 361 in 2019. These fisheries are located in 41 countries, compared with 36 in 2014. With this growth, MSC-certified catch has reached 11.8 million tonnes per year, compared to 8.8 million tonnes in 2014. The last year has seen significant growth in the certification of certain species. 22% of the global tuna catch is now MSC-certified, compared with 19% in 2017, along with 62% of whitefish, compared with 52% in 2017.
  • Political and business coalition around Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): The United Nations’ SDG 14 on life below the water has been instrumental in galvanising government and business commitments. MSC certification is now used by countries and organisations as an integral part of their voluntary commitments towards delivering SDG 14. This includes 27 members of the MSC’s Leaders for a Living Ocean initiative along with companies such as Orkla Health, Aldi and Shangri-La, who have stepped up measures to include sustainable products with the MSC label.
  • Increasing efforts in the Global South: With over half the world’s seafood coming from the Global South, sustainable fishing in these regions is essential for safeguarding seafood supplies worldwide. The MSC is increasing efforts and capacity in the Global South, along with its partner’s commitments to fisheries improvement projects. It has resulted in the number of MSC-certified fisheries in the Global South growing by more than double in the last two years, from 59 in 2017 to 124 in 2019. Initiatives such as the Fish for Good project in Mexico, Indonesia, and South Africa, funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, are supporting fisheries by identifying areas for improvement and providing toolkits to put them on a pathway to sustainability.

'A Bold Target'

The MSC has set a bold target for fisheries representing 30% of global marine catch engaged in its programme by 2030. 


This ambitious commitment reflects the urgency of delivering SDG14 and the mounting pressure on our oceans. 

It can only be achieved through broad commitments and leadership from organisations across the fishing, retail, government, conservation and science communities.

"Everyone involved in supporting sustainable seafood should be very proud of what has been achieved over the last two decades," Howes added. 

"Our report shows a growing momentum behind sustainable seafood which is helping to safeguard our oceans and seafood supplies for future generations. But the global challenge of ending overfishing is profound. Climate change is increasing the urgency for meaningful collaboration across political and geographical borders. Well managed, sustainable fisheries protect our oceans and are more resilient to the impacts of climate change.


 "While a lot has already been achieved, what happens next is even more important. We all need to step up to deliver the change our oceans urgently need."

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