The MSC certification

The South African hake trawl fishery is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the world’s leading certification and eco-labelling program for sustainable wild-caught seafood.

The fishery was first certified in 2004. After the initial five-year certification period came to an end in 2009, it was re-assessed and re-certified for a five-year period in 2010. The latest certification was in 2015, following a rigorous 12-month re-assessment process during which an independent certification agency scrutinised every aspect of the fishery’s management and once again found it to comply with the MSC’s main principles. These are:

  • A fishery is conducted in such a way that it does not lead to over fishing or a decrease in the stock

  • Fishing operations do not impact on the health of the marine ecosystem

  • Fishing is managed and regulated in a responsible way

The South African trawl fishery for hake is the only fishery in Africa to have achieved accreditation from the MSC. It is one of approximately 250 fisheries around the world that have been certified by the MSC. Together, MSC-certified fisheries currently catch about nine million metric tonnes of seafood annually – close to 10% of the total harvest from wild capture fisheries.

MSC assessment of the South African trawl fishery (2015)
MSC assessment of the South African trawl fishery (2009)

About the Marine Stewardship Council

The MSC was established in 1997 by Unilever – at the time the world’s largest buyer of seafood – and the conservation organisation, WWF, in response to concerns about the global state of commercial fisheries.

Since then, the MSC has developed into an independent global organisation that works with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups and the general public to promote sustainable fishing.

The MSC maintains a system of ecolabelling which is a tool for promoting the sustainability of fish resources by letting a buyer know their fish has been caught with the least possible harm to the natural environment.