Certifications for fish

There are a host of labels to keep a lookout for in the freezer section of your grocery store and to ask for at the fish counter.

MSC (Marine Stewardship Council)

The MSC certification contributes to healthier oceans by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing methods, influencing the choices that people make when they buy fish and seafood, and by converting the fish and seafood market into a sustainable market along with partner organisations. The certification and environmental labelling programme provides the fish with independent proof that it was fished in a proper and sustainable fashion, and that the fish they buy comes from a proper and sustainable source that takes the status of its stock, fishing methods and management plans into consideration.


KRAV’s (the KRAV economic association) fishing rules cover every aspect of the chain from the vessel and fishing methods to processing and retailing. Traceability is important, as is most clearly noticeable in the rules on fishing methods, as well as landing and processing. The stock levels are determined by an expert committee that advises KRAV’s board. Read more on KRAV’s website. The regulatory framework also includes reducing the environmental and climate footprint of the fishing industry.

ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council)

ASC is a global certification body that has outlined rules for various aquaculture production groups. The rules are deliberated through an international dialogue that includes seafood processors, the retail trade and foodservice companies, researchers, environmental organisations and the general public, the aim of which is to promote the best environmental and social practices for fish and seafood. Read more on the ASC website.

WWF: World Wildlife Federation

WWF is a nature conservancy organisation that works to promote sustainable fishing, among other goals. They provide information on the environmental labelling of fish by, for example, issuing their annually updated Fish list. The National Agency for Public Procurement’s fish list is primarily geared toward the public sector and thus lists species that are frequently subject to public food procurement rounds. The National Agency for Public Procurement’s fish list is drafted in a transparent, quality assured process, just like the National Agency for Public Procurement’s criteria.


GLOBALG.A.P. is a production standard under which the certificate covers the process for the certified product from the agricultural input goods, such as feed or plants, and all of the agricultural activity until the product leaves the farm. GLOBALG.A.P. is a so-called business-to-business label and is thus not directly visible to the consumer. Read more on Global G.A.P’s website.


“NÄRFISKAT” is an initiative by the Swedish fishing industry to improve information and traceability. “NÄRFISKAT” informs consumers where the fish originates from, what boat it was caught by and when it was sold to the first recipient [1]. Fishermen, fishmongers, stores and restaurants can all be members. Read more at www.narfiskat.se

Some of the rules include:

  • Fish and seafood must be caught locally, meaning the waters around Sweden, the North Sea, the Kattegat Sea, the Skagerrak strait, the Baltic Sea or an inland lake. This label is a complement to the “Northeast Atlantic, major fishing area 27”, with a local designation.
  • The amount of fish and seafood caught must be within the legally mandated Swedish fishing quota and by using the approved fishing methods. Non-quota-subjected species can also be caught.
  • The fish must be documented from the time it is caught to the time it is sold in the retail market to ensure full traceability.

[1] The NÄRFISKAT label must not be confused with environmentally labelled fishing. No green fishing methods are required under this label.

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