The MSC has released its annual report Photo: MSCThe MSC has released its annual report Photo: MSC

There has been encouraging progress in the shift towards sustainable seafood but more needs to be done to protect the oceans, according to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Figures released in the MSC’s annual report show that in 2019-2020 fisheries representing more than 17% of the world’s wild marine catch were engaged with its programme whilst the numbers of businesses involved in producing, processing and sourcing MSC-certified seafood continues to rise sharply.

“We are in the middle of a global pandemic which continues to inflict enormous human suffering and grave economic damage,” said MSC chief executive, Rupert Howes. “However, the crisis also presents an opportunity to shift our economies to a more sustainable and more equitable footing. Ensuring thriving oceans for future generations is an essential component of this.”

The organisation’s annual report ‘Celebrating and Supporting Sustainable Fisheries’ also shows that catch from fisheries engaged in the programme has reached 14.7 million tonnes, up from 12.2 million tonnes in the previous year; consumer choice has increased, with double the number of MSC-labelled product lines compared to five years ago and retail sales of MSC-labelled products has passed US$10 billion for the first time.

However, there is also growing recognition of the importance of sustainable fishing in protecting the oceans. In June this year the Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that sustainable fisheries are more productive and resilient to change while a UN report in September found that sustainable fishing protected ocean biodiversity.

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