FishSource Scores:

Summarizing Information

FishSource compiles and summarizes publicly available scientific and technical information about the status of fisheries and aquaculture into an easily interpretable form. It aims to make information more accessible to seafood buyers and help them take actions to improve the sustainability of the seafood they purchase.

No, FishSource does not define sustainability.

For wild capture fisheries, FishSource provides both qualitative and quantitative information about specific variables which are key across international standards of fisheries’ sustainability such as biomass and fishing mortality levels, the impact of fishing upon habitat or bycatch.

For aquaculture, FishSource provides qualitative information about specific variables which are key to understanding the management system in which an aquaculture industry is operating: such as, if a regulatory framework is in place that includes zonal management, if there are coordinated management practices for disease, or if total production levels are set based upon an understanding of carrying capacity of the area in which aquaculture is occurring.

In both instances, FishSource does not define a level above which a fishery or aquaculture industry is "sustainable". FishSource leaves it to the users of the FishSource data to do that themselves, according to whichever standard or definition of sustainability they are using. FishSource is like a thermometer – it reports a reading, but it’s up to the user to determine whether its “too hot, too cold, or just right”.

Wild capture
image/svg+xml ManagementStrategy Managers'Compliance Fishers'Compliance CurrentHealth FutureHealth 3 5 10 2.9 5 5 3 5 Bycatch ETP Impacts Habitat Ecosystem 3

Wild Capture Scores

FishSource scores provide users with simplified indicators of how fisheries are performing according to globally accepted measures of sustainability. The first three scores at left and on top reflect the quality of the management, the two in the centre row communicate the state of the resource, and the bottom row shows the recently developed scores on environmental impacts of the fishery. The scores are each calculated on a scale from zero to ten with information obtained from stock assessment reports, from management measures adopted in the fishery, and from reliable reports on environmental impacts. By identifying strengths and challenges in the fishery, they can help to prioritize and implement improvements needed in the fishery.

Cut-off points of “6” and “8” on the scores’ scale intend to map to scores of “60” and “80” in the more detailed and nuanced MSC standard, reflecting “acceptable standard but with improvements required” and “unconditional pass”, respectively.

The FishSource scoring methodologies are fully public. The stock and management scoring methodology is available here and the environmental sccoring methodology here.


Regulatory Framework Organized Producers Following Code of Good Practice Water Quality Management Disease Impact and Risk Reduction Marine Feed Ingredient Management 10 ≥8 <6 <6 ≥6

Aquaculture Scores

FishSource aquaculture scores provide users with simplified indicators of how aquaculture industries are adopting a zonal approach to management. The first two scores reflect the state of governance, while the last three communicate the status of management for key natural resources that the industry is dependent on. None of the scores set out specific limits to define acceptable levels of impact; rather, all of the scores focus on assessing the existence and efficacy of the system that is in place to manage key impacts of an aquaculture industry. 

To provide a consistent structure to the analysis of all scores, each of the five scores is assessed through the following three criteria:

  1. Information: Is there sufficient, publicly available information to assess the principle?
  2. Management Content: Are there management measures in place that address the principle under assessment?
  3. Management Enforcement: Is there evidence that the management measures are being enforced?

There is one exception whereby the 'Managment Enforcement' criterion is not assessed for Score 5 (Feed). 

For Score 3 (Water Quality), Score 4 (Disease), and Score 5 (Feed), an additional criterion is assessed under certain circumstances. This fourth criterion – Outcome – is intended to provide a quantitative measure of how the industry is operating in relation to the principle being assessed. The Outcome criterion is only assessed if the information criterion score is greater than, or equal to, six (≥ 6).

The scores are all assessed on a scale from zero to ten.

By providing this level of detail for each score it makes it easier to identify the strengths and weaknesses of an aquaculture industry, which can help prioritize and implement improvements that may be needed.

To learn more about how scores are derived you may download the methodology as a PDF document here.