All about responsibly sourcingFish

Filet-O-Fish is one of our best-loved menu items, and our Sustainable Fisheries Program guides all our global purchases of wild-caught fish to ensure that McDonald’s only uses sustainable sources.



Why it matters

We agree with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) that healthy oceans are essential for thriving marine ecosystems, livelihoods and economies. It’s why every Filet-O-Fish comes from sustainably managed fisheries, and why we’ve made a commitment to source 100% of wild-caught fish from verified sustainable sources by 2020.

Sustainably managed fisheries are those that maintain healthy fish stocks, minimize the impact of fishing on ecosystems and manage the seas, oceans and fisheries responsibly. We fully support global efforts to restore depleted fish stocks, improve fishery management and conserve marine environments.


On this page:

Our approach | Our actions | Our goals and progress


Our approach


Our Sustainable Fisheries Program defines the standards that guide all our global purchases of wild-caught fish. We began this journey back in 2001, working with Conservation International, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and our suppliers to set up a rating program for fisheries, based on management quality, fish stock and marine environment efforts. Improvement plans were set for fisheries that scored poorly and, if no progress was made we moved away from that source but continued working with the different stakeholders to improve the fishery.

Since then, our approach has expanded to include purchasing standards, annual third-party assessments of all our fish suppliers and the purchase of whitefish from sustainable fisheries. We’re also working on a strategy to support sustainability standards for aquaculture for the farmed fish and seafood we source.

Our fish sustainability work supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, specifically:

As well as these, we’ve mapped our Scale for Good initiatives to all 17 goals.


“The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership has been proud to work with McDonald’s for many years and has seen huge improvements in the quality of fisheries management as a result of our joint efforts. We commend the company’s visionary approach to supporting the improvement of fisheries rather than just switching to other sources.”

Jim Cannon, Chief Executive Officer, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

Our actions


The journey behind a Filet-O-Fish

Take a glimpse behind the scenes at Espersen, McDonald’s fish supplier in Denmark, which supplies restaurants in 42 countries. Espersen has been processing cod and haddock for McDonald’s for more than 40 years!



Certifying our restaurants

All McDonald’s restaurants in Europe, Brazil, Canada and the United States are certified against the MSC Chain of Custody traceability standard. This means that every fishery supplying our distribution centers and restaurants must have a valid certificate confirming that fish comes from MSC-certified sustainable fisheries.


“McDonald’s was the first global restaurant chain to put the MSC label on its menus in Europe. Over time, they have built on those strong foundations with MSC certification for McDonald’s restaurants in America, Canada and Brazil, making McDonald’s a world leader in sustainable seafood sourcing. Long-term partnerships like this underpin the MSC program. They help to incentivize fisheries around the world to seek MSC certification, delivering improvements where needed to support healthy oceans for generations to come.”

Rupert Howes, CEO, Marine Stewardship Council

Protecting fragile marine environments

As part of an industry-led voluntary agreement brokered by Greenpeace to protect fragile arctic marine habitats, we announced we would no longer source fish caught in vulnerable or not yet explored areas of the Barents and Norwegian seas in 2016. This was a proactive response to concerns that, due to climate change-related ice melt, fishing boats may be able to operate in previously un-fished areas around the sensitive Svalbard Archipelago.

We will continue to keep this policy in place until there is robust, independent research demonstrating that fishing in the area will not cause serious harm to the marine environment.


Teaching the next generation

To underscore our commitment to sustainably managed fisheries and make the topic accessible for children, McDonald’s U.S. created “Reel It In!” – a card game about the importance of sustainable fishing that all generations of Filet-O-Fish fans can understand. Click here to find out more and download it to play.


Reel It In game

Our goals and progress




By 2020, all the wild-caught fish purchased for use in McDonald’s restaurants will be from verified sustainable sources.



Globally, all of the whitefish for McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish is sourced from sustainably managed fisheries, and McDonald’s has achieved MSC certification in North America, Europe and Brazil.