MSC includes enhanced fisheries in wild-capture certification program

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has clarified its position on the eligibility of enhanced fisheries to be assessed under its Standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries, opening the way for many forms of enhanced fisheries to be assessed under the program.

In June 2008, the MSC Board confirmed that the MSC would not be expanding the scope of its well-known certification and labelling program for wild-capture fisheries to include aquaculture production systems. However, in between the two poles of wild capture fisheries and aquaculture systems, are a wide variety of "enhanced fisheries" that involve different forms and degrees of human intervention.

Over recent years, increasing numbers of fisheries have asked MSC for guidance on the scope of the program in relation to such enhanced fisheries.  The MSC Executive and its governance bodies discussed these issues at meetings in December 2007, June 2008 and January 2009. At the last of these meetings the MSC agreed that in many instances the MSC Standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries is a suitable tool for assessing the sustainability of an enhanced fishery, and recognised that MSC will need to develop further technical guidance.

"This is an important clarification of the scope of the MSC Standard. While enhanced fisheries have always been represented within the MSC program, the MSC has never defined the limits to the scope for enhanced fisheries to be assessed," said Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC.

"The decision on enhanced fisheries draws a line in the sand that will inform potential fisheries as to whether or not they are now in scope for an MSC assessment. We believe many new fisheries will now move forward into assessment process now we have this clarification."

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