These days, consumers are getting more and more ecologically conscious. But how can one be sure that they are getting a sustainably farmed or caught fish on their plate? Packaged fish sold in stores is often marked with a special label. The most well-known labels are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) for capture fisheries and aquaculture respectively. The MSC promotes sustainable fishing and safeguards seafood supplies for the future. The blue MSC-label stands for sustainable, traceable wild seafood. It means that the fish comes from healthy, self-sustaining populations and was caught sustainably by fisheries that care for the environment.
The ASC was founded in 2010 by the World Wildlife Fund and IDH (Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative). It manages the global standards for responsible aquaculture, developed by the WWF Aquaculture Dialogues. The ASC recognises and rewards responsible aquaculture through its certification programme and seafood label. It promotes the best environmental and social choice when buying seafood and contributes to transforming seafood markets towards sustainability. The ASC-label indicates that the fish was responsibly farmed, with minimal impact to the environment. The number of products with an MSC or ASC label is increasing, giving consumers easier access to sustainably produced seafood. Along with MSC and ASC, several other labels exist to help consumers make informed food choices, e.g. GLOBALG.A.P. and Friend of the Sea. For more information on this topic, see Wille, M., Vandenbroucke, K., Bossier, P. & Drouillon, M. (2016). Eco-certification in Aquaculture. Food, Science & Law, 2, 68-72.