As representatives from the seafood industry and conservation community convene in Hong Kong for the SeaWeb International Seafood Summit, three leading funders - the Walton Family Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Skoll Foundation – will invest a combined $10.85 million in the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) through September 2015, with the goal of continuing to build the global market for sustainable seafood. The multi-year grants demonstrate a continued commitment to MSC's certification and eco-labeling program to preserve the livelihoods of fishermen while restoring depleted fish populations and a healthy marine environment.
MSC has engaged scientists, seafood industry members and conservation organizations from around the world to reach a consensus on a global fishery sustainability standard and a worldwide traceability standard for sustainable seafood. This would allow seafood buyers to know at a glance that their fish was caught by a certified sustainable fishery.
"MSC's certification program for wild fish incorporates all the elements of credible certification," said Lisa Monzón, marine fisheries program officer for the Los Altos, Calif.-based David and Lucile Packard Foundation. "We value MSC's commitment to continuous improvement, transparency, and stakeholder involvement and look forward to seeing the program grow even stronger."
Over the past several years, major seafood buyer support for the MSC has grown substantially and the number of fisheries applying for assessment against the MSC standard has skyrocketed. Today, more than 16,000 products in 86 countries bear the MSC logo, and there are currently 287 fisheries either certified or in assessment. A recent report by Marine Resources Assessment Group documented measurable improvements in virtually all fisheries certified by the MSC.
MSC's seafood certification program works to engage multiple stakeholders from the conservation field, seafood industry and regulatory bodies. MSC also focuses on transparency and effectiveness by setting measurable performance targets, receiving independent, third-party verification and working with diverse sectors to improve and update the program.
"MSC is extremely grateful for the long term and continued support of the Packard, Walton Family and Skoll Foundations who share our vision of healthy and productive marine eco-systems where seafood supplies are safeguarded for this and future generations," said Rupert Howes, CEO of the London-based Marine Stewardship Council. "This renewed and extremely generous level of funding will further help the MSC and our many partners to build on the success and progress we are delivering together to preserve the critical natural capital of our oceans and the livelihoods that depend upon harvesting our oceans sustainably."
Through the support of these three foundations, MSC aims to solidify buyer commitments, continue to expand the availability of MSC-labeled seafood in retail stores worldwide, increase support from the food service industry and meet the growing demand associated with the rapid acceleration in fisheries applying for assessment. The funding will also enable the MSC to strengthen its methodology for assessing fisheries and measure the impact of its program on the environmental performance of certified fisheries.