Collaboration with the Marine Stewardship Council

The world’s leading certification program for sustainable seafood. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a non-governmental organization using an international, multi-stakeholder process to provide incentives for fisheries to address key issues such as overfishing and bycatch.

As the largest retailer of natural and organic food, we aim to offer our customers high quality seafood far into the future. Achieving this requires supporting ecological health and the abundance of marine life. We believe the Marine Stewardship Council's sustainable seafood certification program is the strongest tool for bringing about changes in fisheries worldwide.

A global, independent, not-for-profit organization, the Marine Stewardship Council promotes sustainable fisheries and responsible fishing practices worldwide to help preserve fish stocks for future generations. Whole Foods Market was one of the first American companies to support and participate in the Marine Stewardship Council.

Accredited, independent certifying agencies measure compliance to the principles and criteria of sustainability developed by the Marine Stewardship Council. Certified fisheries are rewarded the right to use the MSC eco-label to signify to consumers that the product was caught using environmentally sound fishing methods and responsible management practices.

Learn how the MSC program works

Frequently Asked Questions about the MSC


How does a fishery become MSC-certified?

The MSC program is voluntary and any fishery can try to become certified, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll pass. The MSC standards and process are strict and rigorous. To assess if a fishery can meet the MSC standards, a team of experts from an independent, third-party certification agency evaluates the fishery to see if the fish population targeted is maintained at healthy levels, the ecosystem is intact, and that the fishery management system is effective.

How long does MSC certification last?

The certification lasts five years with an annual audit by the certifier to ensure that the fishery continues to meet certification requirements.

Can farmed fish qualify for certification?

The MSC program was developed for marine capture fisheries, and the MSC has decided not to cover aquaculture certification.

margaret WhittenbergThe MSC is continually developing its program and working to make certification available to a wider array of fisheries, including those in developing countries. For over a decade Whole Foods Market has supported their efforts. Margaret Wittenberg, Whole Foods Market’s Global Vice President for Quality Standards and Public Affairs serves on the MSC Stakeholder Council and for years prior, she was a member of the Board of Trustees.

Read Margaret’ Wittenberg’s speech at Marine Stewardship Council Press conference