MSC Delays Rolling Out Sustainable Fishery Standard

Image: Marine
Stewardship Council.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) announced in late January that it is delaying full implementation of a new fishery standard that would raise the bar for sustainable fisheries.

Specifically, the MSC is allowing fisheries an additional two years to implement a revised standard, known as “version 3.0.” Fisheries that are new to the program will now have until 2026 to implement version 3.0, while currently certified fisheries will have until 2030.

MSC’s Fisheries Standard provides a framework to assess the environmental impacts and effective management of fisheries.

Fisheries adhering to the standard’s sustainability criteria are allowed to display the MSC “blue fish tick” ecolabel on their products. At present, more than 20,000 products globally are believed to display the ecolabel.

 MSC’s decision comes nearly a year after the council began implementing the revised standard and follows several years of hard work by the council, fishing industry representatives, and conservation groups to create a stronger standard for fisheries.

MSC also announced recently that it would conduct an independent review of its Evidence Requirements Framework (ERF), a method meant to ensure that accurate information is being used to assess fisheries, to see if it could be implemented in a way that limits complexity and cost.

Make Stewardship Count, an activist coalition of more than 90 global marine conservation organizations, experts and academics, said in a statement that it was “incredibly disappointed” by the MSC’s decision to delay full implementation of a new fishery standard, and is concerned about the transparency of the ERF process.

“This delay is a massive step backward both for protecting endangered species and ensuring good governance in fisheries,” Kate O’Connell, senior policy consultant for the Marine Life Program at the Animal Welfare Institute, said. “We fear that the council, which claims to operate the world’s leading ecolabel for wild-caught seafood, is caving to industry pressure instead of making substantive changes.”

The London-based Marine Stewardship Council is a global non-profit that works to end overfishing around the world. Through its blue fish label, the MSC provides a way for consumers to identify and choose certified sustainable, wild-caught seafood.