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A Fishstory of MSC in 2012

Toby Middleton, MSC UK Country ManagerBy Toby Middleton, MSC UK Country Manager

2012 was such an iconic year in the UK for so many reasons, plenty of them steeped in national pride, and here at the MSC was no exception. As a market based programme, we’re all about creating momentum and building on the foundations of our previous achievements to continue to build the business case for certified sustainable seafood. To celebrate our progress over the past 12 months, I’ve picked out my own top 10 to show that from simple choices and shopping habits, shoppers and diners really can help sustain seafood for generations to come.

 1 – London 2012 Olympics goes MSC

Olympic rings photo

The London 2012 Olympics set itself the target to be the greenest games ever. And they looked at everything: From construction to transport; from recycling to emissions; and, from biodiversity to food. And the MSC’s little bit? We worked with a dozen caterers across over 30 venues, covering hundreds of meals to ensure there was MSC certified seafood on the menu across the games. As a global showcase of delivering MSC this was our gold medal winner for 2012.

 2 – The Twelve days of fishmas

Peterhead---fishmasAs the year drew to a close we tiptoed up to a handful of partners and clients and, with some trepidation, asked if they minded doing something a bit silly to showcase a busy year at the MSC. To our delight they all said yes. The result is the quite fabulous Twelve days of Fishmas facebook campaign. Well, it made us smile anyway. Merry fishmas.

 3 – Project Inshore

What do you do if you’re a swarthy seadog, braving the rough seas in a tiny boat with all the appetite for certification, but only a skeleton crew for help? In all seriousness, this is exactly the challenge for inshore fisheries that are made up of hundreds of small boats all plying a tough trade, often for many generations. We launched Project Inshore with a number of partners to engage the entire English inshore fishing sector into the MSC process in one go. That’s 2,000 boats, fishing 57 different species in every corner of the isle. One big assessment, lots of little wins!

 4 – Maldives skipjack tuna certification

Maldives Pole-and-Line Skipjack fishermen © MRC, MaldivesIt wasn’t easy, and certainly wasn’t quick, but with perseverance, the Maldivian skipjack tuna fishery achieved MSC certification in November. Despite coming from far across the Indian Ocean, it’s a really important fishery for us tuna loving Brits. In fact it’s our number 1 species. Getting this fishery certified opens up a massive opportunity in 2013 for lots more certified seafood across the UK.

5 – Sainsbury’s reach 100 MSC certified products

MSC certified products were introduced to the UK way back in the early noughties. Keeping going with the MSC ecolabel, as more fisheries get certified, isn’t necessarily as simple as it sounds. Seafood is sold in cans, on counters, chilled and frozen, from sandwiches to salads. Getting that all aligned is no mean feat. Sainsbury’s milestone of launching their 100th MSC product  (haddock by the way) is the result of hard work and resolve; Rolling up their sleeves for over a decade and getting things done.

 6 – Birds Eye MSC certified fish fingers

Birds Eye fish fingersEvery mum across the country has a few staple favourites tucked away in the freezer for that quick dinner solution when time’s in limited supply, and you need to know the kids will hungrily eat it up. How much more reassuring to know that the fish fingers are from an MSC certified sustainable fishery. So they’ll be plenty of fish fingers for future generations too.

 7 – QR code sushi

How do you keep the MSC innovative and engaging in a restaurant that’s been serving certified dishes for over 4 years? By setting them the unfeasibly difficult challenge of making a QR code out of sushi that links to a website that tells the story of the 10,000 MSC certified seafood meals they’ve cooked. Were Moshi Moshi’s chefs up to the task? Find out for yourself at:

 8 – Fish and Kids hits 4,000 schools

FK-Eden-launchFish and Kids is our flagship schools programme that’s been running since 2006. It includes getting the MSC ecolabel on the menus of primary school canteen across the country, supplemented with sustainable seafood classroom materials and fun cooks packs. With more Local Education Authorities and caterers getting MSC certified, we hit our 4,000th school, serving MSC seafood to approx. 800,000 budding young sustainable seafood chefs, fisherman and fishmongers.

 9 – Consumer research

Every 2 years the MSC goes out to consumers to hear first-hand their views on seafood sustainability and ecolabels. We knew that we’d made a lot of progress increasing labelled products on the supermarket shelf and more recently on restaurant menus, but we were nevertheless delighted to find that over 30% of UK seafood consumers could recognise the MSC ecolabel unprompted. That’s over 50% growth since we last asked them in 2010.

 10 – Social media launch

Midway through the year we launched on social media, without which I wouldn’t blogging here now. We wanted to find new ways to engage with consumers, clients, NGO partners, media and more. Our facebook page and twitter feed have been great ways to showcase the little wins of the programme, the baby steps along the way that advance the certification cause little by little. Keep in touch to find out more.

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