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  • Awarded: 2007
  • Issue Areas: Environmental Sustainability · Ocean Ecosystems · Responsible Supply Chains · Standards · Sustainable Markets
  • Region: Central and Southern Asia · Eastern and Southern Africa · Eastern Asia · Europe · Middle East and North Africa · North America · Oceania · South America · Southeast Asia · West and Central Africa
  • Web: msc.org
  • About the Organization

    The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a global, independent non-profit organization which sets a standard for sustainable fishing. They work with partners in an effort to make the world’s seafood markets sustainable.

    Their credible standards for sustainable fishing and seafood traceability seek to increase the availability of certified sustainable seafood and their distinctive blue ecolabel makes it easy for everyone to take part.

    MSC’s vision is of the world’s oceans teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.

    They use their ecolabel and fishery certification program to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by recognizing and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with partners to make the seafood market sustainable.

    MSC collaborates with fishers, retailers, processors, consumers, and others to drive change forward. They never compromise on the environmental standard they set, nor on their independence.

    MSC continues to lead the world in wild capture fishery certification, with the most trusted, recognized, and credible seafood ecolabel.

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    Seventy to eighty percent of the world’s marine fishery resources are threatened by overfishing and in danger of collapse.

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    MSC promotes the long-term viability of a global resource through identification and certification of sustainably harvested fish.

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    Rupert Howes delivers credible, and science-based environmental principles to assess whether a wild-capture fishery is well managed and sustainable.

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    218 fisheries representing 7 million metric tons of seafood, or 8 percent of the global supply of wild-caught fish, have been certified.

    Ambition for Change

    Wholesalers, retailers, and consumers commit to buy only sustainably sourced fish. Fisheries operating illegally or applying poor management practices, including unintended by-catch of non-target species, would not find a market for their products.

    Path to Scale

    Market-driven Adoption of the Standard

    Retailers and consumers come to expect certified products and reject others; need for reliable, quality supply and enhanced brand value drives adoption more broadly in the supply chain.

    Business Model

    Fee-based. Fishery managers pay costs directly to accredited certifiers; fees from certifiers and use of the labels support the majority of MSC operating costs; philanthropic support fills gaps and allows for research, development, and growth.

    Like the Forest Stewardship Council after which it was modeled, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) promotes the long-term viability of a global resource through identification and certification of sustainably managed product – in this case, wild-harvested fish. Originally launched as a partnership of Unilever and the World Wide Fund for Nature, MSC struggled in its early years to build market share and convince major buyers and fisheries that its label could add significant value. Rupert Howes, who became MSC’s chief executive officer in 2004, set out to change that. Passionate about nature, trained as an economist, he had worked with environmental organizations, written a book on motivating industries to improve environmental performance, and championed corporate responsibility. He brought to MSC not only economic training, but also pragmatism and a commitment to understanding the market forces that might drive greater uptake of the model. At the time of the Skoll Award, MSC’s credible, and science-based environmental principles to assess whether a wild-capture fishery is well managed and sustainable were the only internationally recognized standard of this type. Some 22 fisheries had been certified, and 500 MSC-labeled products were available in 26 countries.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Number of certified fisheries has increased tenfold, to 218. This represents 7 million metric tons of seafood, or 8 percent of the global supply of wild-caught fish.
    • More than 140 fisheries are engaged with MSC in pre-assessment or conducting assessments.
    • McDonald’s introduced the MSC label on 100 million filet-o-fish sandwiches in Europe in 2011. In 2013, McDonald’s became the first national restaurant chain in the US to commit to MSC-labeled products for all fish products.
     

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