Conscious consumers pay close attention to labels on packaging, especially when it comes to food products. Sustainable fishing is a big topic, and one way of ensuring that fish products have environmental sustainability certifications is to look for an MSC label on the packaging. How to get the MSC certification?
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a non-profit organization established in 1996 in London. For over twenty years, it has set standards for sustainable fishing and has become an important player in the seafood industry. Now, certified fisheries are responsible for about 14% of marine catch. It nurtures fishery improvement projects to improve the situation in the industry. It is estimated that 20,000 different MSC-certified products are sold annually in over 65 countries.
Fisheries can obtain MSC certification if they conform with the standards. It is not the MSC that assesses fisheries but an accredited independent conformity assessment body (CAB). A fishery hoping to get the MSC certificate has to contract third parties to perform assessments and audits.
If you want to obtain an MSC certification, you have to:
- Contract a body to conduct a pre-assessment. The CAB visits the fishery, consults experts, and analyzes data in their process. If everything is in order, it gives the fishery a passing score.
- Contract a body to conduct a public assessment and pass it.
- Obtain an MSC certification and the license to use the “Certified Sustainable Seafood” label on your products according to the rules. To keep it, the fishery has to undergo annual audits and pay an annual fee.
How long does it take to get the MSC certification?
The assessment process can take up to 18 months.
For how long is the MSC certification valid?
MSC certification is valid for 5 years.
How much does it cost to obtain an MSC label?
It is said that some fisheries pay CABs fees of $20,000 to $100,000 for the assessment. The annual audits cost $75,000 per audit. Moreover, retailers must pay the MSC royalties of up to 0.5% of the net wholesale value of seafood sold to use the MSC label. The annual fee for using the MSC label is $250-5,000.
Why is the MSC label not popular in the US?
In fact, a substantial portion of MSC-certified fish is not labeled. Even though the fisheries have passed every test, labels are not affixed. Supermarket chains are not willing to use the logo in-store on fresh products because it racks up the price tag.
Check other markings that are affixed on the packaging.