It’s a bit late but welcome to National Seafood Month. This October, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is honoring the many people working in MSC certified fisheries, and supply chain partner companies, who are helping to make our ocean healthier tomorrow than it is today. October is National Seafood Month, an annual opportunity for the seafood industry to promote the consumption of healthy and delicious seafood. But with overfishing on the rise, consumers’ increased awareness of environmental issues, and demands for brands and retailers to offer more sustainable products, focusing on sustainable seafood options is a must.
Improving the way our ocean is fished requires a broad collective effort and is critical at a time when many fish stocks are being extracted at unsustainable rates – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that overfishing continues to rise, with more than a third (34%) of the world’s fish stocks overfished. At the same time, consumers are demanding more from companies, with over half (55%) of US seafood consumers agreeing that we “must consume seafood only from sustainable sources to protect the ocean”.
Consumers have more options than ever to choose certified sustainable seafood, and momentum behind the sustainable seafood movement continues to grow as both the number of MSC partners and the volume of certified seafood they sell increases. There are currently 421 MSC certified fisheries around the world, collectively representing 14% of global wild seafood catch. Across the US there are 75 MSC certified fisheries – from scallops, squid and swordfish in the Atlantic, blue crab, menhaden and oysters in the Gulf, to pink shrimp, groundfish, and salmon in the Pacific.
All of the people behind MSC certified fisheries and sites are contributing to a healthier ocean and a big blue future. MSC certified fisheries do this by making improvements to the way they harvest fish to protect the wider ocean environment and other species. In the last three years alone, 372 improvements have been made benefitting endangered, threatened, or protected species, stock status and harvest strategies, fishery management, government and policy, and ecosystems and habitats. These requirements help drive innovation and improve fishing practices.
National Seafood Month and the Supply Chain
The seafood supply chain plays an equally important role in driving sustainability and fostering consumer confidence. Globally, more than 46,200 sites – made up of supermarkets, restaurants, processors, distributors, and warehouses – have MSC Chain of Custody certification, ensuring certified fish is clearly identified and separated from non-certified seafood, minimizing the chance of fraud, or mislabeling. This gives consumers confidence that products carrying the MSC blue fish label have been independently vetted for their sustainability and can be traced to a sustainable fishery. Overall, sales of products featuring the MSC blue fish label are up 47% compared to last year in North America. The US, in particular, saw a 54% increase in sales of MSC labelled sustainable seafood on the back of growing commitments from brands and retailers including Walmart.
Jackie Marks, MSC senior public relations manager, US, said “This Seafood Month, the MSC is spotlighting the community of people working on making the ocean healthier tomorrow than it is today. Consumers want more sustainable options, and by choosing MSC blue fish labeled products, they are supporting the people who are doing the right thing for the future of our ocean. A big blue future is one where the oceans are healthy, fish populations are thriving, and consumers can feel good about their seafood choices.”
The MSC blue fish label can only be applied to wild-caught seafood products from a fishery that has been independently assessed for its impacts on wild fish populations and the ecosystems they are a part of. Together with fisheries and companies sourcing MSC certified seafood, consumers’ collective actions to choose MSC labeled products can help improve ocean health and ensure wild seafood for generations to come.
This October, shoppers can look for the MSC blue fish label in the freezer section of the store, as well as the canned aisle, fresh case, supplements department and petfood aisle to support the people working toward a big blue future.
About the Marine Stewardship Council
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization. Our vision is for the world’s ocean to be teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations. Our blue label and certification program recognizes and rewards sustainable fishing practices and is helping create a more sustainable seafood market. It is the only wild-capture fisheries certification and ecolabelling program that meets best practice requirements set by both the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) and ISEAL, the global membership association for sustainability standards. Fisheries representing more than 17% of the world’s wild marine catch are engaged in MSC’s certification program. More than 18,000 different MSC labelled products are available on shelves across the globe*. (*figures correct as of 31 March 2020). For more information visit www.msc.org or follow @MSCBlueFish on social media.