Marine Matters

The Marine Stewardship Council: Sustainable Fisheries through Consumer Choice

By: Laura Cooper and Michael Sutton


Our oceans bounty was once thought to be limitless. Overfishing has led to a depletion of marine fisheries that is impacting the oceans biodiversity and jeopardizing future consumption levels of this valuable resource. If managed sustainably, fish can be used as an abundant food source indefinitely. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a new international, nonprofit organization established through a unique partnership between conservation and business, is working to shift practices away from overfishing to sustainable fishing through market forces. Products from fisheries certified to MSC standards for sustainability ultimately will be marked with an on-pack logo. This will allow consumers to select fish products that they know come from well-managed sources, thus creating a market incentive for industry to shift to sustainable fishing practices. The Marine Stewardship Council initiated an international multistakeholder consultative process to engage organizations concerned with fisheries in setting standards for sustainable fishing. This collaborative development process is an example of a new approach to addressing conservation issues. Coupled with increasing public concern, the Marine Stewardship Council program has potential to positively impact fishing practices worldwide.


Laura Cooper is the International Programme Officer for the World Wildlife Fund's Endangered Seas Campaign and Michael Sutton is Director of WWF's Endangered Seas Campaign.

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