26. May 2016 Scientists from Kiel Use Official Stock Estimations for the Assessment of Fish Stocks

In a current study, scientists from the Cluster of Excellence “The Future Ocean” assessed the reliability of the MSC seal for Northern European fish stocks. The interdisciplinary study, which was published in the journal Marine Policy, was developed together with experts from fisheries biology, economics and law.


The blue seal on fish products is meant to convey buying reliability for consumers and guarantee that the fish comes from stocks which are being sustainably fished. However, the result of the current study from Kiel conveys another message. More than ten stocks were fished more than was economically and ecologically reasonable (see press release from May 25).

In the press release by the MSC the points of reference applied in the study were questioned. But the official points of reference “fishing pressure” and “stock size” from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) were clearly used. Overly high fishing pressure (“above“) and to small stock size (“below trigger”) are clearly designated there and marked in red within the traffic light labeling system.

You can find a summary of the overfished and too small stocks, with a link to the official documents here.


Dr. Rainer Froese, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Telephone: 0431-600-4579

Dr. Silvia Opitz, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Telephone: 0431-600-4522

Friederike Balzereit, Public Outreach, Cluster of Excellence “The Future Ocean“, Telephone: 0431-880-3032