Sustainable fishing improves impacts on ocean ecosystems and vulnerable marine life as UN calls for urgent action to prevent loss of marine biodiversity



WASHINGTON, June 8, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the non-profit organization dedicated to ending overfishing, today announced that 100 improvements have been made by MSC-certified fisheries in 2020, directly addressing issues related to endangered, threatened and protected species, among others. MSC fisheries have a long-term commitment to sustainability, and improvements are central to obtaining and maintaining certification.

Improvements include those made by the U.S. North Pacific Halibut Fishery, which has worked with federal fisheries managers on innovative methods, such as the implementation of heat maps, to document fishing effort and fish composition. catches on bycatch and discards of a specific segment of the halibut fishery. (those less than 40 feet in length). The fishery has been successful in producing data demonstrating limited risk in bycatch, and data continues to be collected to detect any increased risk to major bycatch species. Collecting more information from the small boats in this halibut fishery helps ensure that any risk to bycatch species is taken into account.

In other parts of the world, notable improvements include those made by a Australian tuna fishing which introduced mitigation tools and electronic monitoring on all vessels to minimize damage to protected species, and a Canadian haddock fishery which implemented new measures to help the recovery of the thorny skate, classified as vulnerable.

Fifteen of the global improvements have helped improve fisheries understanding and management of impacts on local ecosystems and habitats. These included a Icelandic shrimp fishing who supported research on seabed mapping in an effort to avoid causing damage to delicate deep-water sponge clusters. Twenty improvements were also made to fisheries management and 11 to the status of target fish stocks.

These advances come at a time of growing concern about the unprecedented pressures facing our ocean. As a recent United Nations assessment report points out,1 there are many areas where urgent action is needed to avoid the loss of marine biodiversity, tackling overfishing being a central recommendation to address these losses.

“Unsustainable fishing practices pose a serious threat to the biodiversity and productivity of our oceans. Yet we know that with proper management depleted stocks and damaged ecosystems can recover,” said Dr. Rohan currey, responsible for science and standards at MSC.

“More than 400 MSC certified fisheries around the world are already leading the way in best practice. Often working in close collaboration with local agencies and scientific bodies, they also help stimulate research and innovation, by enriching the body of knowledge in fisheries science.

“As we enter this crucial United Nations Decade for Ocean Science, it is essential that we accelerate collaboration and progress around the world if we are to achieve long-term, sustainable ocean outcomes. “

To be certified as sustainable, fisheries must meet the stringent requirements set by the MSC. But many fisheries are also subject to certification requirements, which means they have to make improvements to some of their practices within a specified time frame. In this way, the fisheries engaged in the MSC program are encouraged to improve their performance in relation to global best practices.

Since the fishery was first assessed for MSC certification in 1999, almost 2,000 improvements have been made by fisheries to remain certified.2 The positive contribution of these fisheries to the protection of the ocean was recognized by two UN bodies in 20203, showing that MSC certified fisheries are at the forefront of tackling overfishing and supporting ocean biodiversity.

On World Oceans Day and throughout June of National Oceans Month in the United States, MSC reminds consumers that their purchasing decisions can have a positive impact on what happens on the water. The health of the oceans and climate change are among the top three environmental concerns of the American public, and the younger generations, those between the ages of 18 and 34, are particularly motivated to take action to help protect seafood for the to come up. They are also much more aware of the eco-label and willing to pay more for certified sustainable seafood.4 Through its ‘Little Blue Label, Big Blue Future’ consumer engagement campaign, MSC reminds consumers that by making the simple choice to buy seafood bearing the MSC blue fish label, they can part of the solution and contribute to healthy oceans.

“The next five years for our ocean depend on the purchasing decisions consumers make today,” said Jackie marks, Senior Public Relations Officer at MSC. “The future health of our common ocean and an end to overfishing depends on the collective actions of a global community.”

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization. Our vision is that the world’s oceans are teeming with life and that seafood supplies are preserved for present and future generations. Our blue label and certification program recognize and reward sustainable fishing practices and help create a more sustainable seafood market. It is the only certification and eco-labeling program for wild capture fisheries that meets the best practice requirements set by both the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO) and ISEAL, the global membership association for sustainability standards. Fisheries representing more than 17% of the world’s wild marine catches are committed to its certification program and more than 18,000 different MSC-labeled products are available on shelves around the world *. (* numbers correct at March 31, 2020). For more information visit or follow @MSCBlueFish on social media.

1 United Nations Second Global Ocean Assessment (WOA II) April 2021
Throughout the life of the MSC certification program (1999 – March 31, 2021), there have been a total of 1,931 improvements over closure conditions brought about by MSC certified fisheries.
3 In june 2020 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has reported that sustainable fisheries are more productive and resilient to change (page 8 State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture). In September 2021 the United Nations Environment Program reported that (pages 58-63 Global Biodiversity Outlook 5) sustainable fishing protects the biodiversity of the oceans.
4 MSC and GlobeScan survey on seafood consumer perceptions 2020

SOURCE Marine Stewardship Council

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