Seafood stewardship certifications

Seafood certifications build consumer confidence by identifying sustainably caught or produced products in the marketplace. B.C. fishers and aquaculture producers participate in stewardship certification programs to adopt a structured standard of sustainability within their business and gain greater market access and competitiveness.

Aquaculture certifications

The B.C. aquaculture sector is a world leader in responsible seafood farming.  This is achieved through accreditation by independent, national and international third party audited certification and labelling programs.  These include:

Sustainable seafood labelling programs

There are several organizations with programs that make recommendations for sustainable seafood choices to consumers through point of sale product labelling. These organizations provide ratings for both wild caught and aquaculture raised seafood:

Wild fishery certifications

What is considered a sustainable fishery?

For certification, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) recognizes three overarching principles that every fishery must meet to be considered sustainable. These are:

  • Sustainable fish stocks: The harvest level is sustainable for the fish population to ensure that fishing can continue indefinitely and is not over exploiting the resources.
  • Minimizing environmental impact: Fishing operations are managed to maintain the health and diversity of the ecosystem on which the fishery depends.
  • Effective management: The fishery meets all laws and regulations for ensuring sustainable fishing practices.

The Marine Stewardship Council is considered the international leader in sustainable fisheries certification, and adheres to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Guidelines for the Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries, which include:

  • Objective, third-party fishery assessment utilizing scientific evidence
  • Transparent processes with built-in stakeholder consultation and objection procedures
  • Standards based on the sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices

Certified fisheries

The following fisheries in B.C. are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council:

  • Halibut (September 2009)
  • Albacore tuna (March 2010)
  • Hake (November 2010)

In addition, the MSC Chain of Custody Standard verifies traceability through the supply chain, from a certified fishery to final sale. Several B.C. seafood companies are MSC Chain of Custody certified.