MSC's 2020 strategy: One fifth of seafood certified sustainable by 2020

© iStock

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) wants to see 20% of global fish and seafood certified sustainable by 2020, according to the strategy plan it released on its 20th anniversary.

Tuesday saw the 20th year that the non-profit has been running, with 12% of global marine catch now being certified by the organisation.

By the year 2020, MSC hopes to raise this figure to 20%, and by 2030 to have more a third of global marine catch to be engaged with the MSC program.

Nicolas Guichoux, global commercial director at the MSC, said: “The core of the initial program is that we have a global vision and mission of sustainable fisheries globally. One of the reasons why the MSC was created was because over-fishing became a big issue especially in the early 90s.”

Guichoux explained that over-fishing has tripled in the past 40 years going from 10% in the mid-70s to 31% today of the global fish stock.

The main efforts going towards the 2020 goal will be to reward sustainable fisheries and introduce incentives for improvement, ensure MSC certifications are credible and reflect best practice, expand sustainable seafood markets in Europe and Asia and to build public awareness and support.

Celebrating sustainability

Guichoux said one of the most important things the MSC is doing is raising awareness within the general public.

He said this will mean the MSC certification label will be known - a great benefit for certified fisheries because they will get more recognition.

As well as this, he said raising awareness will hopefully drive demand for sustainable fish.

"In Australia, we are working with chefs, NGOs and other partners to really celebrate sustainable seafood and try to explain to the general public that if they choose seafood, it's important that they look at if it's coming from a sustainable fishery because of the global problems facing fisheries," he said.

The MSC also recently certified the UK hotel chain, Premier Inn, for using sustainable seafood in their restaurants.

In China, the MSC holds the annual Sustainable Seafood Week where fish products which are sourced sustainability are highlighted.

This summer will see the fourth event.

The organisation say it will be investing in scientific research to create global campaigns that will educate the public.

“While there is much to celebrate, there is also a growing sense of urgency to address unsustainable fishing and deliver Sustainable Development Goals. This is a critical time for our oceans. The MSC’s new strategy prioritises those parts of the world, species and markets which can have the most significant impact on the health of our oceans. It remains true to the vision of our founders, building on the lessons of the past,” said Rupert Howes, MSC's Chief Executive.

The Power of Partnerships

In other news, MSC teamed up with Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Lidl at the annual Seafood Futures Forum at Seafood Expo Global in Brussels yesterday.

Lidl was one of the first large retailers to build sustainability into its procurement process, and its branches in Germany only sells MSC-certified products in its permanent, own-brand, fresh and frozen fish range.

International corporate social responsibility manager at Lidl, Judith Kontny, delivered the keynote speech at this year's forum.

"We want to make sure that the products we sell are available in the long term and this is why their origins are so important. In the years that Lidl has worked with the MSC and ASC, we have witnessed more and more fisheries and producers achieving certification, but delivering our commitment still presents challenges," Kontny explained in her speech.

"For example, we are eager for more certified species, notably octopus and squid, and we believe more effort is needed to engage consumers in Eastern and Southern Europe in support of responsible and sustainable seafood".

Lidl also plans to only sell products which are certified organic or by the ASC by 2018.

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