Sustainable fishing improves the performance of ocean ecosystems and vulnerable marine life
New data released today shows that by 2020, 100 improvements have been made by fisheries as part of their certification to the Marine Stewardship Council sustainability standard – more than half of which relate to endangered species. disappearance, threatened and protected. .
Among the improvements are those made by a Australian tuna fishing which introduced mitigation tools and electronic monitoring on all vessels to minimize damage to protected species, and a Canadian haddock fishery which implemented new measures to help the recovery of the thorny skate, classified as vulnerable.
Fifteen of the improvements have helped improve understanding and management by fisheries of impacts on local ecosystems and habitats. These included a Icelandic shrimp fishing, which has supported research on seabed mapping in an effort to avoid causing damage to delicate deep-water sponge clusters. Twenty improvements were also made to fisheries management and eleven to the status of target fish stocks.
These advances come at a time of growing concern about the unprecedented pressures facing our oceans. As a recent UN Assessment Report  there are many areas where urgent action is needed to avoid the loss of marine biodiversity – tackling overfishing being a central element.
Dr Rohan Currey, Scientific Director and Head of Standards at the Marine Stewardship Council said: “Unsustainable fishing practices pose a serious threat to the biodiversity and productivity of our oceans. Yet we know that with proper management, depleted stocks and damaged ecosystems can recover.
“More than 400 MSC certified fisheries around the world are already leading the way in best practice. Often working in close collaboration with local agencies and scientific bodies, they also help stimulate research and innovation, which enriches the body of knowledge in fisheries science.
“As we enter this crucial United Nations Decade for Ocean Science, it is essential that we accelerate collaboration and progress around the world if we are to achieve long-term, sustainable ocean outcomes. ”
To be certified as sustainable, fisheries must meet the stringent requirements set by the MSC. But many fisheries are also subject to certification requirements which mean they must make improvements to some of their practices within a specified time frame. In this way, the fisheries engaged in the MSC program are encouraged to improve their performance towards global best practices.
Since the first fishery entered assessment for MSC certification in 1999, nearly 2000 improvements have been made by fisheries to remain certified . The positive contribution of these fisheries to the protection of the world’s oceans was recognized by two United Nations organizations in 2020  – show that MSC certified fisheries are at the forefront of the fight against overfishing and the support of ocean biodiversity.
1. In 2020, 100 improvements were made by MSC certified fisheries around the world. The improvements come from a certification closing condition.
3. Throughout the lifespan of the MSC certification program to date (1999 – March 31, 2021), there have been a total of 1931 improvements over closure conditions brought about by MSC certified fisheries.
4. In June 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that sustainable fisheries are more productive and resilient to change (page 8 State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture). In September 2021, the United Nations Environment Program reported that (pages 58-63 Global Biodiversity Outlook 5) sustainable fishing protects the biodiversity of the oceans.