What do we know about the impacts of the Marine Stewardship Council seafood ecolabelling program? A systematic map protocol


Voluntary sustainability standards and eco-labels are market-based mechanisms used to encourage producers and consumers toward environmental sustainability. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is one such program which aims to improve the state of the world’s oceans and promote a sustainable seafood market. Now in its 21st year, with approximately 14% of global fisheries landings certified, there is growing evidence of the program’s impacts (direct and indirect) on factors from fisheries management and consumer awareness to coastal communities’ livelihoods and international law. To better understand the program as a whole, the proposed systematic map will collate and describe published research on the environmental, social and economic effects of the MSC program, and indicate the prevalence of disciplines or topics and study designs in this literature. Areas considered of greater interest, knowledge gaps, and future research priorities will be identified.


This systematic map protocol describes how research regarding the MSC will be searched, identified and described. All research on the MSC and its effects (direct and indirect) will be included. The review is not limited to effects on certified fisheries but will include those on supply chain companies, socio-economics of coastal communities, governments, biological populations and ecosystems, NGOs and other stakeholders impacted by or potentially influenced by the MSC. The search scope includes studies from MSC’s foundation in 1997 to the present. To identify studies, pre-determined inclusion and exclusion criteria will be used at the title, abstract and full text levels. In addition to the use of bibliographic databases and internet search engines, the authors will call for and search for grey-literature. The final systematic map will be presented in a descriptive report detailing the focus, extent, and occurrence of research on the MSC’s impacts, taking special care to map the disciplines focused on the programme and the study design of research.


Voluntary sustainability standard, Sustainable fisheries, Market-based mechanisms, Impact evaluation

In Progress