Pioneering the Path to SDGs: Certifications, Innovation, and Sustainability


How do the fishing and processing productions contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? This question is addressed in the latest Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Insights Report from September 2023. Fishing and processing productions are fundamentally connected to economic well-being, livelihoods, nutritional security, biodiversity, and ecosystems. Actions aimed at enhancing the sustainability of fishing and processing play a pivotal role in advancing multiple SDGs. By increasing the utilization of by-products in fishmeal and fish oil production, we are maximizing the utilization of oceanic resources, thus making a substantial contribution to the achievement of SDGs. Certifications such as MarinTrust and MSC serve as tools to ensure sustainable production practices.

In its most recent Insights Report, the MSC delves into how its program facilitates meaningful actions and measurable progress towards realizing the SDGs, with a particular emphasis on SDG 14, “Life below water.” Sustainable fishing practices are integral to the achievement of SDG 14, which includes objectives to halt overfishing and safeguard and rehabilitate ecosystems. Attaining this goal also lends support to the fulfillment of several other SDGs. An analysis demonstrates that organizations and companies engaging with the MSC program are actively contributing to the SDGs. Their commitments to MSC certification programs promote environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Fishing and processing productions are inherently tied to economic prosperity, livelihoods, nutrition, biodiversity, and ecosystems. Efforts to enhance the sustainability of these productions further the achievement of multiple SDGs.

For many nations, fishing and processing play a critical role in food security (SDG 2) and are indispensable to their national economies (SDG 8). Initiatives to bolster the sustainability of fishing and processing practices promote responsible consumption and production (SDG 12). Sustainable fishing and processing, which mitigate environmental impacts and prevent overexploitation, are imperative for fostering productive and healthy marine ecosystems (SDG 14). These examples underscore the significance of fishing and processing productions in delivering and achieving the SDGs. Consequently, it is urgent that organizations and companies prioritize sustainable practices and innovative approaches to ensure the long-term attainment of the SDGs.

One method to facilitate progress towards these goals is the use of certifications such as MarinTrust and MSC by European fishmeal and fish oil producers. The participation of organizations and companies in certification programs contributes to the realization of various SDG targets. Sustainable management of fishing and processing operations contributes to the elimination of hunger (SDG 2) by ensuring increased and stable production over the long run. This is particularly vital, as sustainable production can meet the growing global demand for protein in an expanding global population. As representatives of European fishmeal and fish oil producers, EFFOP takes pride in collaborating with certification programs like MarinTrust and MSC. Furthermore, all EFFOP members support and implement the FAO Code of Conduct for responsible fisheries. Sustainability is, therefore, at the core of production and is a means to achieve the SDGs.

Making full use of the ocean’s resources: increased use of by-products

Another method to progress towards these goals is the focus on innovation by European fishmeal and fish oil producers. With the global population on the rise, there is an increasing demand for global aquaculture production. Marine ingredients are crucial in this context as they are essential for producing healthy, omega-3-rich fish. Access to fishmeal and fish oil is, therefore, vital for the continued growth of global aquaculture production. Currently, more than 30 percent of global fishmeal and fish oil production utilizes leftovers from fish processed for human consumption. During the filleting process, up to 60 percent of fresh fish can be discarded as waste. These by-products contain valuable fish protein and oils, and their utilization in fishmeal and fish oil production maximizes the utilization of natural resources.

This approach not only adds value to otherwise unused raw materials but also serves as a conduit for transporting nutrients from the ocean into the human food chain. It is important to note the health benefits and energy efficiency associated with this practice. The micronutrient composition of fishmeal, including amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, supports the growth and optimal physiological function of animals and farmed fish, making fishmeal and fish oil indispensable as feed ingredients. Moreover, the production of fishmeal and fish oil requires energy, and the industry’s concerted efforts have effectively reduced energy consumption. In this way, innovations in fishmeal and fish oil production contribute to the achievement of various SDGs and create value from by-products that might otherwise have gone to waste.

Read the full report from MSC here: MSC September 2023