DNA results confirm supply chain integrity for MSC certified sustainable seafood

Consumers who buy products bearing the blue Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel can be confident the seafood comes from MSC certified sustainable fisheries, according to the latest report of DNA testing.


Whenever seafood is sold with the MSC ecolabel it means that every business in the supply chain must have undertaken a detailed traceability audit against the MSC chain of custody standard.


Independent DNA testing on randomly selected MSC-labelled products is an integral part of the MSC’s strategy for monitoring the effectiveness of its chain of custody program. And so the DNA result represents a crucial indicator of the MSC’s credibility and plays an important role in its overall mission to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans.


The latest results show less than 1 per cent of MSC-labelled products were mislabelled. Of the 320 products tested, only three were found to be mislabelled. These three particular results are now being investigated by tracing back the documentation through the supply chain. In each instance, the certifier and the brand owner will be informed and, if evidence is found of a substitution with non-MSC certified seafood, the result will be a suspension of certification.


In order to extend the reach and value of the MSC DNA testing, this round has added additional species, included haddock, tuna and halibut. In addition, a smaller control group of non-MSC certified seafood products were also tested, which revealed five per cent were mislabelled.

Traceability is a hot topic in the seafood industry and, with the complexity of the international supply chain, it can be difficult to find robust and verifiable information about a particular product.


However, when seafood is sold with the MSC ecolabel, it means every business in the supply chain has undertaken a detailed traceability audit against the MSC chain of custody standard. This shows consumers and seafood buyers that seafood with the MSC-ecolabel has come from MSC certified sustainable fisheries.


“This is an important test for the MSC,” explains MSC product integrity manager, Alison Roel, “because it provides consumers and MSC stakeholders with added assurance that MSC-labelled seafood has been correctly labelled.


“Our DNA analysis provides an additional means of helping our partners protect their investment in the MSC program, and we’re going to continue to expand the test to increase our overview of the chain of custody program. Any cases where mislabelling is identified will be referred to the certifiers of the supply chain so they can be further investigated,” she said.


About the MSC


The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organisation set up to help transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis. The MSC runs the only certification and ecolabelling program for wild-capture fisheries consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation Guidelines for the Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries.  These guidelines are based upon the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing and require that credible fishery certification and eco-labelling schemes include:


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

The MSC has offices in London, Seattle, Singapore, Beijing, Berlin, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Glasgow, The Hague, Halifax CA, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, Reykjavik, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Stockholm, Sydney and Tokyo.


In total, 317 fisheries are engaged in the MSC programme with 219 certified and 98 under full assessment.  Another 40 to 50 fisheries are in confidential pre-assessment. Together, fisheries already certified or in full assessment record annual catches of close to ten million metric tonnes of seafood. This represents over eleven per cent of the annual global harvest of wild capture fisheries. Certified fisheries currently land over seven million metric tonnes of seafood annually – over eight per cent of the total wild-capture harvest.  Worldwide, more than 20,000 seafood products, which can be traced back to the certified sustainable fisheries, bear the blue MSC ecolabel.


For more information on the work of the MSC, please visit www.msc.org

  • Sustainable

    We are the only year-round supplier of MSC certified sustainable Atlantic swordfish in the world
  • Fresh

    Fresh – NEVER FROZEN – swordfish, tuna, snapper, grouper, mahi-mahi, finfish, stone crabs and spiny lobster
  • Traceable

    Tags with barcoded catch information attached to each fish assure complete traceability from ocean to market

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