Sustainable Fisheries


This environmental certification program is globally recognized for the verification of large-scale and artesanal fisheries. It is a voluntary certification that can be accessed by all fisheries: directed catches, combined catches, introduced species, etc.

OIA participated in the development of the methodologies which are the base of MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) standards, both for the fisheries certification and for the distribution traceability. OIA is the only Latin American certifier accredited to certify Sustainable Fisheries Systems.

What are this certification advantages?

The fishing companies obtain better prices for their products, access new markets, maintain a competitive position in existing markets, show their communities and interested parties an adequate management of fisheries and receive recommendations about changes to improve their management.

The OIA-MSC program promotes the development of management plans and new fisheries and proposes incentives for research and technological development to improve fisheries’ management.

The consumers realize that purchasing products which carry MSC seal they are supporting healthier oceans and environments and therefore, collaborating with fisheries’ future. MSC certification is one of the best options to ensure that consumers will continue enjoying sea products today and in coming years.

After completing the traceability audit (Custody Chain Certification) the certified products can carry an eco-label.

Who can obtain the certification?

Small fishing companies, national agencies, management authorities or not-for-profit organizations.

How is the organic certification process?
  1. The process starts when the parties interested in the fisheries certification introduce to OIA the project to be certified.
  2. After the certification request and signature of contract between OIA and the customer, there is an exchange of documents and information as required by the OIA-MSC certification program.
  3. Then there is a confidential pre-assessment, where OIA performs a simple analysis of the fisheries to evaluate its compliance with MSC standard. (This step identifies aspects to be improved and helps to get ready to the full assessment).
  4. OIA selects an independent evaluation team to the full assessment. This is a detailed public procedure which can last between 12 and 24 months. Additional information may be requested to respond technical issues and an improvement plan.
  5. If the assessment team reports that the fisheries complies with MSC standard, it will obtain a certificate valid for 5 years with annual supervisions.
  6. Then, the cycle is restarted for the recertification.



What is MSC?
The MSC is a global independent not-for-profit entity created to find a solution for the overfishing problem. It was created in by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund – an international entity dedicated to nature preservation) and Unilever (the world’s biggest seafood buyer). Since 1999 it is a fully independent entity. Nowadays, it has the support of many organizations all over the world.
Why is it necessary the MSC Certification?

There is a global crisis in fish stocks all over the world. When fisheries collapse, not only sea ecosystems are threatened, but also local economies.

Fish products which comply with MSC standard for sustainable and well managed fisheries can carry MSC Ecolabel. This market incentive encourages fisheries to voluntarily seek MSC certification, which directly influences their management.

MSC Ecolabel highlights good fishing practices and provides consumers the certainty that they are not contributing to the over-fishing problem. Besides, it offers seafood consumers real information and the power to have a real influence through their purchasing decisions.

What is the meaning of MSC Ecolabel?

MSC Ecolabel means that the product has been evaluated by an independent certifier as OIA and has reached MSC standard.

All products carrying the Ecolabel also have the following statement: ‘This product comes from a fishery that complies with the environmental standard of the Marine Stewardship Council for well-managed and sustainable fisheries.’

With this information, consumers know that buying products which carry MSC Ecolabel they support healthier seas and environments.

What general aspects of a fishery does MSC program evaluate?
  • Fishery stocks, ecosystems and healthy environments.
  • Effective legal systems and fishery management plans.
  • Surveillance and monitoring of fishing activities.
  • Environmentally friendly fishing methods.
  • Use of quotas and catch limits for different species.
  • Socially responsible fisheries which take into account the needs of involved communities.
  • Economic and commercial aspects.
  • Consideration of the objective points of view of all parties involved in the fishery.
Who evaluates the fishery?

OIA selects a team of national and/or international scientists and experts to evaluate the fishery, who are experienced in covering all aspects of MSC Principles and Criteria.

The team prepares a Preliminary Report that is commented with the applicant, the external reviewers and the general public. OIA’s Certification Committee evaluates the information and allows the Full Report which results in a certification decision.

How long does it take to obtain MSC Certification?

The estimated time for the different stages of the certification process is:

  • Pre-evaluation: 2 to 3 months.
  • Full assessment: Between 9 and 18 months if there are no objections, depending on the complexity of the fishery.
Is the Certification Report of public access?

The Report for Public Commentary is only released when the applicant and external reviewers have issued their commentaries. The Final Report is published in MSC website:

Does MSC certification apply to aquaculture products?

The MSC program does not presently reach aquaculture operations.

However, there is scope for partially manipulated fisheries, whether in the process of reproduction, growth or fattening.

The MSC evaluation process applies to natural sea and freshwater fisheries.

Additional Info

Natural fish stocks

Natural fish stocks in oceans and terrestrial aquatic systems in the world are being exhausted because of market demands. This is a public and worrying situation.

Despite the world reduction of fish stocks, some fisheries are managing their resources in a responsible way and with a long-term perspective. Buyers of sea products, conservation groups and general public request fisheries actions to demonstrate that they are trying to protect both the environment and the fishing industry’ sustainability.


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