The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the world’s most recognized, science-based seafood certification program, marks 20 years of working to keep the world’s oceans wild with a new campaign. “Keep It Wild” celebrates the people who love wild seafood and who have been instrumental in partnering with the MSC to protect the world’s oceans over the past two decades. The MSC has launched a new website – 20.msc.org – to better highlight its work and mission and to encourage consumers to continue choosing seafood with the organization’s blue fish label that denotes wild, certified and sustainable seafood.
“Since the MSC’s establishment in late 1997, we have engaged numerous stakeholders – from fisheries and processors to restaurants, retailers and consumers – in our vision to see the world’s oceans teeming with life to ensure a healthy seafood supply for today, tomorrow and always,” said Brian Perkins, regional director for the Americas at the Marine Stewardship Council. “As we embark on the next 20 years, and beyond, we want to celebrate those who have turned that vision into a reality. While much work remains, we are proud of our collective accomplishments thus far and look forward to continuing our momentum.”
A mission translates into milestones
Conceived in response to global fisheries challenges such as overfishing and habitat destruction, the MSC was established as a nonprofit by Unilever and WWF to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans. The MSC uses its blue fish label and strict fishery certification standards to support its mission in three ways: recognizing and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.
Since its inception, the MSC has created highly specialized certification standards and traceability systems, which are continually refined and updated with the latest fisheries science. Organizations that seek certification do so voluntarily, and independent third-party entities determine whether those organizations meet the MSC’s stringent requirements before awarding certification. To meet the MSC’s standards, applicants must demonstrate alignment with three core principles: guaranteeing sustainability of fish populations, committing to minimal ecosystem impacts, and implementing effective management practices that respond to environmental changes.
The MSC’s rigorous approach has attracted stakeholders from around the world – including fisheries, processors, restaurants, retailers and consumers – in its efforts to achieve significant milestones in sustainability:
- 12 percent of all global catch is now certified to MSC standards
- 300 fisheries are certified globally, and 22 of those are in the U.S.
- More than 33,000 companies around the world, representing every level of the supply chain, are MSC certified
- More than 23,000 products carry the MSC’s blue fish label in about 100 markets
- The U.S. market has more than 1,000 products with the blue fish label
Keeping the world’s oceans teeming with life is a collaborative effort, and the MSC has reached out not only to fisheries, but to businesses with global impacts. For instance, in 2006, Walmart committed to sourcing all fresh and frozen seafood from organizations certified to the MSC standard. In 2011, McDonald’s restaurants in Europe adopted blue fish labeled products, and the following years saw a similar movement by its U.S. and Canadian operations. In 2015, IKEA pledged to serve only sustainable seafood throughout its markets.
The MSC has also earned the respect of sustainability-focused organizations around the world. It was the first global seafood certification to achieve recognition from the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative for its credibility and rigor. Additionally, the MSC was recognized for best practices by ISEAL Alliance and UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
MSC maintains focus to ‘Keep It Wild’
As the MSC looks to the future, it is working to fold more individuals and organizations into its mission. With a new Keep It Wild campaign, the nonprofit is celebrating the people – known as “the Wild Ones” – who have turned their love of wild seafood into a solution for the world’s at-risk oceans. The campaign will highlight the fishers, processors, fish mongers, grocers, restaurateurs, chefs, consumers and even pets who enjoy seafood carrying the blue fish label, which is affixed to products ranging from fresh, frozen, canned and preserved items to supplements and pet food.
The Keep It Wild campaign will be featured online at 20.msc.org, in retailers, on the Food Network’s “Food Quest” show, and at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C. In addition to celebrating the people behind the organization’s success, Keep It Wild will provide consumers with guidance on how to find and select sustainable and traceable seafood products so they can do their part in keeping the oceans wild for generations to come.