Quality assurance labels and certification for seafood

Ecolabels: environmental labels

MSC label: sustainable fishing for wild fish

The MSC label was created more than 20 years ago by the Marine Stewardship Council in response to overfishing. This label is for wild fish and shellfish caught in fisheries which have been certified as sustainable by the MSC Fisheries Standard. The traceability of MSC products is guaranteed from the sea to the plate.

The MSC label guarantees sustainable fishing practices which protect the marine environment, along with the species and the fishermen who depend on it. It certifies:

  • The long-term sustainability of fish stocks, with consideration for the life cycles of different species
  • Environmental conservation through the implementation of best fishing practices
  • Fishing management by means of efficient regulations

What’s more, the label’s collaboration with scientists ensures its credibility and reliability.

ASC label : sustainable aquaculture for farmed products

The ASC label from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council was created in 2010 by the WWF. The ASC certification programme involves multiple stakeholders, encouraging them to reflect on aquaculture practices and their impact to work towards a sustainable industry. Recognised around the world, this label is consumer-oriented. The ASC logo is used to raise awareness of environmental and social issues. Today, this label is used to certify farmed prawns, salmon, trout, mussels and oysters.

Friend of the Sea certification: wild and farmed fish

Founded in 2006, Friend of the Sea certification guarantees sustainable production methods for the marine environment:

  • No overfishing of stocks
  • Fishing methods which protect marine habitats and are selective, targeting species to reduce rejections and bycatch

The Friend of the Sea label is used for farmed and wild products.

AB (agriculture biologique or organic farming) label: for aquaculture

The BIO label is a French and European certification used for farmed marine algae and fish. It guarantees organic aquaculture which is subject to various obligations:

  • A ban on the use of pesticides or other chemicals (dyes, growth stimulants)
  • Limited use of antibiotics
  • Organic feeds: feeds using products from quota-based fishing and/or organically grown plants with no traces of genetically modified (GM) products
  • Regulated density of seafood, ensuring animal well-being

Mussels can also be awarded this certification. Water quality must be high and must not have an impact on the environment.

Other certification for seafood

Seafood: optimum quality in terms of taste

The Label Rouge for seafood and aquaculture products was created in 2005 when the association Aqualabel was founded. Certification is guaranteed by the Label Rouge standards and ensures:

  • Commitment to consistent quality
  • Traceability throughout the supply chain (harvesting, catching, farming, production, transformation, sale)


Consequently, this French label is applied to products of higher organoleptic quality than products of a similar nature. The Label Rouge is the only official labelling to guarantee taste. It is not permanently acquired and audits and analysis are carried out frequently.

The Label Rouge is applied to:

  • Aquaculture and shellfish culture: bass - prawns - sea bream - turbot - oysters
  • Fishery products: canned sardines or tuna or mackerel - scallops

Pavillon de France: guaranteeing French quality

Founded by a group of professionals (suppliers, fish merchants, wholesalers, retailers and fishmongers), the Pavillon de France brand was created in 2012 by the Association France Filière Pêche (French Fishing Industry Association). With a genuine desire to promote the production and commercialisation of French maritime resources, their objectives include:

  • Supporting and promoting sustainable and responsible fishing techniques to :
    • protect the environment
    • conserve natural resources
    • make French fisheries more competitive
  • Supporting the commercialisation of French fishery products to end consumers by means of the Pavillon de France brand

A product with the Pavillon de France label is a product which has been caught at sea by a French vessel which is subject to inspections throughout the supply chain to ensure that the brand’s specifications are met.

“Pin badge” labels: a carefully chosen product which is easily identifiable

There are a wide range of “pin badge” labels for seafood. They have a wide range of different meanings and depend on the decision-maker:

  • Fishermen: the product is immediately given a “pin badge” label when removed from the water; this is often the case for line-caught fish or ikejime fish, killed on board. Sometimes, the “pin badge” label can be used to identify a specific fishing area.
  • Fish merchant: the “pin badge” label is affixed to fish which are judged to be of excellent quality; in general, these products are given an Extra quality grade.

The “pin badge” label can provide traceability information and certification, such as Label Rouge salmon, for example

Line-caught hake identified by a quality label.
Graphic representation of the quality labels on the ProcSea purchasing platform.

Find these quality assurance labels and certification on ProcSea

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