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MSC Supports Making Krill and Fish Oil Sustainable

05.13.19

The Marine Stewardship Council targets sustainable seafood and omega-3 production.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) take fishing and ocean life seriously. With science at its heart, since 1997 the organization has set the most credible and trustworthy requirements for sustainable seafood production. 

Keep It Wild 
The MSC's vision is for the world's oceans to be teeming with life—today, tomorrow and for generations to come. A sustainable seafood market is crucial to making this vision a reality. 

Unsustainable fishing is a major global challenge. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 29% of global fisheries have been fished beyond sustainable limits and a further 61% are fully exploited. However, it is possible to fish responsibly—to manage fisheries carefully so that stocks can replenish, and to minimize impacts on other species and habitats to ensure ecosystems remain healthy. 

MSC uses its ecolabel and fishery certification program to contribute to the health of the world's oceans by recognizing and rewarding sustainable fishing practices. It does this by influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, krill oil or omega-3 supplements, and working with its partners to transform the seafood market. By looking for the blue MSC ecolabel, consumers can be confident that their choices are helping to drive positive changes in the way oceans are fished. 

Fish & Krill Oils Have a Major Marine Footprint 
For many, eating certified sustainable fish as part of a balanced diet is an effective way of ensuring that we receive the nutrients, protein, and oils we need. But there’s also a growing desire to supplement the diet with fish products in the form of omega-3 rich fish oils. 

These supplements provide the health benefits of eating fish in a convenient form that can be taken daily. However, with the raw materials often coming from species at the bottom of the food chain, such as anchovies, sardines, and krill, it’s also important to ensure that they are being caught sustainably and without detriment to the marine environment. 

Globally, one in five wild-caught fish is destined for the reduction industry. A reduction fishery is one that “reduces” its catch to fishmeal and fish oil including supplements rather than for direct human consumption. 

This particular sector uses some 22% of the global wild catch and has a major impact on the water. Sustainability problems remain significant in fisheries—and the reduction sector is no exception. 

Focusing in on fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) raw material, the MSC program is being used increasingly by fisheries to provide the raw material (RM) for the reduction industry, from approximately 800,000MT of RM available in 2014 to 2 million MT RM available today. There is a market for fishmeal and fish oils and the sustainable operation of these fisheries is just as important as those that produce seafood.  

“The number of MSClabeledd fish oil products available globally has doubled in the last five years as brands seek to appeal to more environmentally conscious consumers," Nicolas Guichoux, chief program officer at the MSC. 

MSC’s partners' commitments are essential to achieving the vision of oceans teeming with life and safeguarding seafood supplies. By choosing seafood products with the blue MSC label, brands, retailers and consumers reward responsible fishing operations and incentivize others to improve. The MSC program has been designed to be applicable to the global fishing industry, with the potential to drive large-scale change. 

Consumers Care
Research by insights and strategy consultancy, GlobeScan shows that health-conscious consumers are increasingly looking for sustainably sourced seafood alternatives.  
A survey of 2,800 consumers of health supplements and fish oil across seven markets showed that 46% put overfishing and the depletion of fish species within their top three concerns for oceans, wildlife and people—second only to ocean pollution (64%).  

The most preferred way for this group to source information about sustainable fish and seafood is on product packaging (58%), followed by TV/radio articles (52%). 72% of those aware of the MSC label have a high level of trust in the MSC.