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MSC certification requirements

The MSC standards for sustainable fishing and seafood traceability are both supported by MSC certification requirements. When certifiers are carrying out assessments against either standard, the requirements establish how to assess the fishery or business against the relevant standard.  

The MSC standards and certification requirements ensure that only seafood from a certified sustainable fishery is sold with the MSC ecolabel and meet best practice guidelines for certification and ecolabelling.

What are the MSC certification requirements?

The MSC certification requirements were developed in 2011and are designed for use by certifiers. They are structured in sequence based on the ISO Guide 65, the document upon which the MSC certification system is based.

The MSC certification requirements:

  • Set out how the standards should be interpreted by certifiers conducting assessments
  • Ensure that the performance of fisheries and businesses against the MSC standards is properly assessed during assessments
  • Ensure that all assessments against an MSC standard are carried out consistently, irrespective of where, when and by whom the assessment is carried out.

There are 3 parts:

CofC certifcate
Part A: General requirements for all certifiers

Sets out the steps that accredited certifiers must take to assess against the MSC standards for sustainable fishing  and chain of custody.


Sets out how accredited certifiers should assess organisations in the supply chain against the MSC Chain of Custody (CoC) standard, to ensure that the supply chain for MSC certified seafood is secure.


Lakes and Coorong - pelicans
Part C: Fishery certification requirements

Sets out how the MSC standard for sustainable fishing  should be interpreted when assessing fisheries for MSC certification. This includes steps in the assessment process as well as the assessment tree used to score fisheries.


Current version of the MSC certification requirements

The MSC certification requirements and supporting documents are intellectual property of the MSC and is periodically updated by the MSC Technical Advisory Board.

Version 1.4 of the certification requirements was issued on 31 January 2014 incorporating changes to the CoC process requirements as part of the annual policy development cycle. This release includes changes to: the scope criteria of CoC certification, the requirements for subcontractors, MSC CoC certificate suspension, MSC generated CoC codes. These changes will become effective from 31 March 2014.

Download the latest version of MSC certification requirements 

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