Cornish sardines are among a group of sustainable fisheries being credited for making vital improvements to protect ecosystems and vulnerable marine life, this World Ocean Day (June 8).

New data shows that in 2020, 100 improvements were made by fisheries across the globe as part of being certified to the Marine Stewardship Council’s sustainability standard. Over half of these include improvements relating to endangered, threatened and protected species.

The Cornish sardine fishery is working on projects aimed at protecting marine wildlife. Sardine fishermen in Cornwall have collaborated with the Sea Mammal Research Unit to conduct studies using onboard video cameras and an app to better enable reporting interactions with endangered, threatened and protected species.

Cornish sardines also feature in MSC’s World Ocean Day campaign #BigBlueFuture this week, which is encouraging consumers to choose seafood with the MSC blue ecolabel and help protect oceans, livelihoods and fish for the future. Cornish sardine fisherman, Tom Pascoe, and the vessel he fishes on, Serene Dawn, can be seen in a new MSC #BigBlueFuture global campaign film, launched this week.

Gus Caslake from the Cornish Sardine Management Association (CSMA) said: “The hard work undertaken by CSMA members over the past few years has enhanced the management of not only the Cornish sardine fishery but also of the wider marine environment.

“The future looks good for the Cornish sardine, with excellent stock levels backed up by well-informed management advice.”

Globally, 15 of the improvements made helped enhance fisheries’ understanding and management of impacts on local ecosystems and habitats. This progress comes at a time when there is increasing concern about the unprecedented pressures facing our oceans. As highlighted by a recent UN Assessment report, there are many areas where urgent action is needed to avoid losing marine biodiversity – with tackling overfishing being a central part of this.

George Clark, MSC UK & Ireland Programme Director, said: “Unsustainable fishing practices are a serious threat to the biodiversity and productivity of our oceans, yet we know that with proper management, depleted stocks can recover and damaged ecosystems can once again flourish.”