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WWF Welcomes Improved MSC Fisheries Standard

06 October 2014

GLOBAL - WWF has welcomed a revised and improved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainable fisheries standard. The new standard, published this week, lifts conservation requirements on fisheries, excludes shark finning on certified fishing vessels and bars companies with convictions for employing forced labour from certification.

The new standard is mandatory for fisheries entering assessment from 1 April 2015 and will apply to fisheries reassessments from 2017, but WWF is encouraging all fisheries to apply it voluntarily from now on.

“About 90 per cent of our fisheries are already overfished or fished to their limits. Only through joint efforts to make fisheries and the whole global seafood industry sustainable can we stop the over-exploitation of the seas. We are delighted that the new MSC standard meets WWF’s sustainability criteria and we stand strongly behind it,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

WWF considers the MSC to be currently the only credible standard for sustainably wild-caught seafood, and participated in the two years of negotiations involving fishermen, processors, retailers, scientists and governments that produced the new standard

“The review of the MSC Standard was a huge opportunity to bring the certification criteria up to date with recent science and international best practice, We believe that this standard will become a great incentive for best fisheries practice and considerably reduce the negative impact of fisheries on the marine environment and species,” said Alfred Schumm, WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative Leader.

Strengthened provisions, new safeguards

The MSC label guarantees consumers that the fish comes from a sustainably managed fishery, and is harvested with minimal impacts on marine habitats and other marine species including endangered, threatened and protected species.

The new standard strengthens provisions requiring that the fish stock is maintained in healthy condition and introduces new safeguards for sensitive and vulnerable marine and coastal habitats, such as coral gardens, sponge grounds, seagrass beds, biogenic-reefs or sea mounts. Assessments will require more and better quality information on the impacts of fishing on habitats which will feed into fishery management conditions.

WWF has been campaigning for more than a decade to improve the sustainability of fisheries and encouraging fisheries to apply for MSC certification is a significant component of that effort. To date, fisheries certified or in full assessment record annual catches of around 10 million metric tonnes of seafood. This represents over 10 per cent of the annual global harvest of wild capture fisheries. Another 5 per cent of the annual global harvest has been identified as potentially certifiable in a short term while 85 per cent of the global harvest or their management are still in need of large-scale improvement. WWF believes that about 50 per cent of the global harvest could be sustainably sourced by 2020.

“However, commitments and actions by industry and consumer pressure for sustainable fish supplies won’t deliver healthy oceans on their own,” said Schumm. “The onus is now on governments and fisheries management organisations to lift their game.”

Further Reading

Go to our previous news item on the new MSC standard by clicking here.

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