“MSC certification is as credible third-party certification scheme that proves that a fishery is well-managed and is sustaining ocean resources and livelihoods for future generations,” says Anne.
“As a voluntary scheme, fisheries decide to be MSC certified and to be benchmarked against the world’s most recognised reference for sustainability: the MSC Fisheries Standard, and thereafter for the catch to be sold with the blue MSC label through the chain of custody program.”
“Ten years ago, only 1,000 labelled products were in the market. Today there are over 30,000 products using the MSC label, in over 100 countries, covering more than 108 MSC certified species, with estimated $6 billion spent by consumers on MSC-labelled products,” notes Anne.
The MSC is currently running Sustainable Seafood Week, an annual flagship event aimed at bringing together partners (including supermarkets, food brands and zoos) to help empower consumers to make the right choice when shopping at supermarkets or dining at restaurants. The event is in its 11th year.
“As we create increased understanding about sustainable fishing and as the demand for sustainable seafood grows, more fisheries are changing for the better. They are improving fish stocks, reducing impacts and putting better management systems in place. And when fisheries prove their sustainability, we should stand up and recognise them, and Sustainable Seafood Week is another way we can do this,” notes Anne.
“Sustainable Seafood Week also helps meet the needs of Australian consumers, 75 per cent of which told us via research that they would like to play their part in saving the ocean by consuming seafood only from sustainable sources, so that future generations can continue to enjoy seafood,” says Anne.
“Consumers can also play their part in asking for sustainable seafood wherever they go. Little things like asking a restaurant or supermarket where their fish comes from and whether it’s sustainably fished; is it traceable? Does it have a third party audited ecolabel on it to prove sustainability? If no, why not? These are the questions consumers can start asking so the market is further motivated to ensure they make the shift to protect our oceans, while maintaining a healthy supply of seafood for generations to come,” says Anne
According to Anne, there is a global imperative too.
“Over three billion people rely on seafood as their main source of protein in the world. With fishery exports from developing countries valued at over US$80 billion, more than all other food commodities combined (including meat, rice and sugar), many nations and communities around the world depend on fishing as their primary source of living and sustenance.”
“The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Developments Goal 14 (Life under Water) aims to end overfishing, pollution and ocean acidification. And indeed, humanity and wellbeing on Earth are intrinsically linked to the health of our oceans. Our oceans provide oxygen for every second breath and absorb a quarter of the carbon emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere,” notes Anne.
As for the fish species listed in our stamps, Anne notes some key examples of how industry, government and NGOs can collaborate to produce significant sustainability outcomes.
“The Southern Ocean Patagonian Toothfish fisheries have all but eliminated illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing through identifying illegal vessels operating without the appropriate licenses. Australian Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) and Macquarie Island Patagonian Toothfish stocks continue to be at healthy levels. This healthy stock status is projected to be maintained throughout the 35-year stock assessment model forecast,” says Anne.
“Australian fisheries have effective strategies in place to reduce the capture of seabirds, including controls on fishing practices, seasonal restrictions on gear use, temporal restrictions on gear use, and requirements for real time reporting of interactions. This has significantly minimised seabird interactions with the fishing gear, bringing seabird bycatch to near-zero levels. The HIMI and Macquarie Island Toothfish Fisheries are also two of the seven MSC certified Toothfish fisheries that have closed areas to protect seabed habitats.”
To learn more about the work of the Marine Stewardship Council, visit www.msc.org
Sustainable Seafood Week runs from 11 to 17 March 2019: www.msc.org/en-au/home/sustainable-seafood-week
Banner image and image of MSC ecolabel, courtesy Marine Stewardship Council, Australia.