The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label, the most recognized seafood sustainability eco-label, is increasingly being awarded to fisheries that routinely catch thousands of vulnerable marine animals; discard excessive amounts of sealife as waste; irreversibly destroy sea floor habitats; and continue to catch overfished species.

We are calling for urgent and swift changes to the MSC certification standard in order to uphold the scientific rigour, transparency, and original vision of the seafood label as well as its promise to consumers and retailers that it is the ‘gold standard of sustainability’.

A growing number of marine conservation organizations, leading academics and researchers, animal protection organizations, and individuals working towards sustainable seafood options have joined this call and undertaken analyses to advise MSC on specific changes needed to the certification.

See all partners below.

Critical requirements to improve the MSC

These required improvements emerge from research and analysis undertaken by non-government organizations and academics focused on marine conservation and seafood certification and are aimed at improving Principle 2 of the MSC Standard as well as the certification procedure to ensure credibility and impartiality.  They stem from our involvement as stakeholders in a range of MSC certifications, which have given rise to concerns with the MSC Standard and its application.

To see full technical details of each of the requested changes
(download the pdf)

1 Ensure that the full ecological impacts of a certified fishery are assessed and progressively improved and fisheries are not wasteful of marine lives and resources.

2Ensure that the entirety of the certified fishery methods, gear, and catch are sustainable and that all “main species” of a catch are managed equally to the target species.

3Ensure that MSC certified fisheries do not destroy seafloor biodiversity, and that the MSC Standard is consistent with internationally accepted fisheries management standards.

4Ensure that the sustainability claim of MSC certified fisheries is evidence based and transparent for all of the data used for decision making in the assessments and audits of fisheries.

5Ensure that condition-based certification is resolved prior to recertification.

6Ensure that the certification assessment and audit process are impartial.

7The MSC must proactively uphold the scientific rigour and goals of the program.


The Fish Certification Business – the Dark Side of the MSC

Episode 166
Fish is considered healthy. But what fish can you eat with a clear conscience so as not to destroy life in the sea? Which fishing methods are sustainable? Many consumers are guided by the Blue Mark of the MSC, the Marine Stewardship Council. It is considered the most successful eco-label in the world and graces more than half of all fish products sold in Germany. Whole supermarket chains only offer MSC-certified goods. 41 percent of buyers know the seal and trust it. „You have to believe that,“ says a customer in the supermarket. „It’s like organic, that’s a matter of faith. And MSC has somehow managed to convince me.
„Actually, the MSC seal guarantees: This fish does not come from overfished stocks and its catch has not damaged the marine ecosystem. But is that true? For some time there has been criticism of the seal. The standards are too lax, it is said by ocean guards.
„The story in the first“ author Wilfried Huismann feels with its elaborate, worldwide search the MSC on the tooth. The WDR team finds examples that show how questionable the awarding of the seal by the MSC is. He meets fishermen who wanted to get the seal of quality mainly for marketing reasons and have gotten it, even though their fishing method damages the seabed. „If the MSC seal is on it, there are no more questions,“ says the owner of a plaice fishery. A seal to sell fish better? A small Galician fisherman catching octopus and other species in the traditional way categorically rejects the MSC seal.
He and his colleagues could have applied for it. But the MSC had also negotiated with the owners of large fishing vessels, which would endanger the stocks solely because of their size.
„If the MSC only wants to certify the stock of one species, but not the fishing method, then we do not want an MSC,“ says the fisherman. Again and again met Huismann on his research trip the charge, the MSC no longer meet its self-imposed standards. One of the co-founders of the eco-label even accuses the MSC of now following industry interests more than its own eco-standards. The MSC had switched „to the dark side“. What is the subject of this reproach? „The Story in the First“ provides surprising and sobering insights. (Text: ARD)

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Join us!

Your organization and expertise are welcome in our effort to improve the MSC. Get in touch to join the united call for dialogue:

Partner organizations, scientists, and experts
on the January 2018 Open Letter to MSC

Animal Welfare Institute, Washington, DC USA

Susan Millward,
Marine Animal Program

The Augusto Carneiro Institute, Brazil

José Truda Palazzo,
Jr., Vice-President

Blue Sphere Foundation

Candace Crespi,
Campaign Manager

BLOOM Association

Dr. Frédéric Le Manach,
Scientific Director

BlueShark Conservation, Belgium

Katrien Vandevelde & Jan Wouters,

Born Free Foundation, UK

Mark Jones,
Associate Director

Cetacean Society International, Connecticut, USA

David Kaplan,

Centro Rescate Especies Marinas Amenazadas

Isabel Naranjo,

Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS)

Ralph O. Schill,
President Scientific Committee

David Suzuki Foundation

Scott Wallace,
Senior Research Scientist

Defenders of Wildlife

Alejandra Goyenechea,
Senior International Counsel

Deutsche Stiftung Meeresschutz (DSM)

Ulrich Karlowski,
Foundation Board Member, Vorstand

Deutsche Meeresstiftung

Frank Schweikert,

Divers for Sharks, Brazil

Paulo Guilherme,
Alves Cavalcanti,

Dolphin Connection, California, USA

Nancy Azzam,
Executive Director

Dolphin Watch Alliance

Angela Ziltener,
Founder and President

Ecology Action Centre, Canada

Shannon Arnold,
Marine Policy Coordinator

Environmental Justice Foundation

Steve Trent,

Equilibrio Azul, Quito, Ecuador

Felipe Vallejo,
Executive Director

Fair Fish International Association

Billo Heinzpeter Studer,


Vera Weber,
CEO and President

Fins Attached Marine Research and Conservation

Randall Arauz,
International Policy Director

For the Oceans Foundation, Costa Rica

Jorge Serendero,

Forest & Bird, NZ

Kevin Hague,

Fundação Tartaruga, Cabo Verde

Euclides Resende,
Excutive Director

Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delphine e.V.

Ulrike Kirsch,
International Dolphin-SAFE Monitoring Program Germany

Greenpeace International

Oliver Knowles,
Ocean Campaigner

 Shark Foundation, Hong Kong

Apple Chow,
Executive Director

International Marine Mammal Project

Mark J. Palmer,
Associate Director

Environmental Organization for the Preservation of the Aquatic Ecosystems, Greece

Ioannis Giovos,
Director of iSea

Living Oceans Society

Karen Wristen,
Executive Director

Mar Viva, San José, Costa Rica

Dr. Jorge A. Jiménez,
Director General

Nektos, Belgium

Frederic Buyle

 OceanCare, Switzerland

Sigrid Lüber,

Oceanic Preservation Society Greenbrae, CA USA

Candace Crespi,
Campaign Director

Pelgios Kakunja A.C.

Edgar Mauricio Hoyos Padilla,
Director General

Pro Wildlife e.V., Germany

Dr. Sandra Altherr,


Sarah Foster,
National Manager

Sea Save Foundation

Georgienne Bradley, Director

Sharks Educational Institute, Spain

Fernando Reis,
Executive Director

Shark Allies, California, USA

Stefanie Brendl

Sharks Mission, France

Fabienne Rossier,

Shark Savers Germany e.V

Sabine Falk,

Sharkman’s World, Malta

Alex Buttigieg


Alex Smolisky, President,  International e.V. | Friederike Kremer-Obrock, President, Germany e.V. | Herbert Futterknecht, President, Austria

Sharkprotect e.V. , Germany

Baron Jupp Kerckerinck zur Borg,

Shark Research Institute Princeton, NJ USA

Jupp Baron Kerckerinck,
CEO Board of Trustees

Shark Stewards

David McGuire,
MPH, Director and Founder

 Stop Finning Deutschland e.V.

Julian Engel,
2. Vorsitzender

The Dolphin’s Voice e.V, Germany

Alexander Endl,
Founder and Chair

The Global Shark Conservation Initiative, Belgium

Veerle Roelandt

Turtle Foundation Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Board Member of TF Germany

Dr. Frank Zindel,

Turtle Island Restoration Network

Peter Fugazzotto,
Strategic Programs Director

German Underwater Federation (VDST)

Ralph O. Schill,
President Scientific Committee

The Whaleman Foundation Lahaina, HI USA

Jeff Pantukhoff,
President & Founder

WildAid Hong Kong

Alex Hofford,
Wildlife Campaigner


Peter Knights,
Executive Director

World Wise Foods

John Burton,
Chairman and Chief Executive

Megan Bailey

Canada Research Chair,
Dalhousie University, Marine Affairs Program, Halifax, Canada

Dr. Cat Dorey

Consultant (Fish, Fisheries, & Science Communication), Australia

Hannes Jaenicke

Actor and Environmental Activist, Film Producer

Robert Marc Lehmann

Marine Biologist, Photographer, Camera Man,
NG Photographer of the Year 2016,

Callum Roberts

Professor of Marine Conservation, Environment Department University of York, UK

Dr. Ralf P. Sonntag

Senior advisor Marine Conservation,

Tom Vierus

Marine Biologist, Photographer, Filmmaker,
German Science Photographer 2016/2017,

The growing list of partner organizations, scientists, and experts joining the call for change

The Black Fish Deutschland e.V.

Valeska Diemel,
1. Vorsitzende

Blue Marine Foundation, UK

Charles Clover,
Executive Director

Fundación Malpelo y Otros Ecosistemas Marinos, Colombia

Sandra Bessudo,
Fundadora/ Directora Ejecutiva

 legaSeas, New Richmond Ohio, USA

Deb Adams,

Save Our Seas Foundation, Switzerland

Michael C. Scholl,

Shark Angels, New York, NY, USA

Jamie Pollack,

SOS-Seaturtles, Switzerland

Kurt Amsler,

Sidney Holt, DSc

One of the founders of modern fisheries science, and marine policy and whale conservation expert

Mundus maris

Dr. Cornelia E. Nauen, Vorsitzende

pacific garbage screening

Marcella Hansch
Architektin M.Sc. – CEO

NABU International

Dr Barbara Maas
Head of Endangered Species Conservation

Fish 4 Ever

Charles Redfern

One Earth One Ocean

Günther Bonin
CEO / Founder


Mercedes Anzures Aguilar

Campaign Whale

Andy Ottaway
Founding Director

Seal Protection Action Group

Andy Ottaway
Founding Director

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