Our governance

Independence, transparency, impartiality and multi-stakeholder governance are central to the MSC’s values and commitment to continually maintain and strengthen world-leading standards.

We work hard to ensure our standards, strategy and decision-making take account of the views, expertise and experience of a wide range of stakeholders, from academia and government, the fishery and market sectors, and the environmental NGO community. 

Our governance structure involves a wide range of stakeholders with different perspectives to ensure that the MSC’s decisions are balanced, reflecting many sectors and interests. 

In addition to our governance groups, stakeholders are invited to participate in consultations on our standards and requirements, and are encouraged to participate in independent fisheries assessments.

Chart of MSC Governance Structure

In addition to our governance bodies, standing and ad hoc working groups may be established by the Board, Technical Advisory Board or Stakeholder Advisory Council to address specific regional or topical issues. Their members come from the MSC Board, Technical Advisory Board and Stakeholder Advisory Council, and may include other independent experts who are invited to advise the MSC. 

The Board of Trustees is also supported in its work by a number of Board Committees, which meet throughout the year to reflect in detail on specific areas of the MSC’s activities and operations.  Their membership is primarily drawn from the Board of Trustees.

If you are interested in participating in the MSC’s stakeholder consultations, or if you have any questions about our governance structures and processes, please contact the MSC’s Chief Operating Officer.

The MSC Board of Trustees

The MSC Board of Trustees is our governing body. With advice from the Technical Advisory Board and Stakeholder Advisory Council, it sets the strategic direction of the MSC, monitors progress and ensures the MSC meets its objectives.

The Board of Trustees meets 4 times a year and has a maximum of 15 members.

Main activities

  • Ensuring the MSC meets its charitable aims
  • Setting the strategic direction of the MSC, and monitoring progress in delivery of strategy
  • Ensuring that the MSC is financially secure
  • Publicly accounting for expenditure and income
  • Ensuring the MSC operates in a legally compliant manner in relevant jurisdictions
  • Appointing new Board members and key MSC staff
  • Appointing members of the Technical Advisory Board and Stakeholder Advisory Council


The Chair of the Board of Trustees leads the Board and is elected for a term of three-years, and may serve up to three terms. Another trustee may be elected as Vice-Chair. 


Trustees are chosen for their knowledge, expertise and support for the MSC. Membership is balanced with representatives from different sectors and geographical regions (as well as other relevant demographic criteria) to reflect the broad mix of stakeholders who have a stake in the MSC's mission.

Potential new Board members are identified by existing members, and following a review process, suitable nominees are approached for interview. Favourable references must be provided, and there must be consensus amongst all Board members on the appointment of a new candidate.

Trustees are nominated by the Board in a personal capacity, not as representatives of their organisations. They serve a maximum three-year term and may stand for reappointment.

The Chair of the Technical Advisory Board and both Co-Chairs of the Stakeholder Advisory Council have a seat on the Board to ensure that these important governance bodies are represented in Board decisions.  The Chair of the MSCI Board is also an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees.



The MSC Technical Advisory Board

The Technical Advisory Board advises the MSC Board of Trustees on technical and scientific matters relating to the MSC Standards, including developing methodologies for certification and accreditation and reviewing the progress of fisheries certifications.

Main activities 

  • Advising the MSC Board on the MSC Standards
  • Maintaining documents relating to the MSC Standards
  • Developing methodologies for certification and accreditation
  • Reviewing the progress of and advising on fisheries certifications.


The Technical Advisory Board is appointed by the Board of Trustees, based on recommendations from the TAB. The Chair has an ex officio seat on the MSC Board of Trustees, so is involved in all Board activity.


The MSC Board of Trustees appoints new members to the Technical Advisory Board, with the aim of bringing a range of experience, skills and geographical representation. Members are nominated in a personal capacity not as representatives of their organisations. Members serve a 3-year term and may stand for reappointment.

Read the MSC Technical Advisory Board Terms of Reference and Operating Framework



The MSC Stakeholder Advisory Council

The MSC Stakeholder Advisory Council (STAC) provides advice to the MSC Board of Trustees and input into the MSC’s review processes. It includes representatives from the seafood industry, conservation community, market sector and academia. Its membership reflects diverse experiences, geographies and interests in relation to the work of the MSC.

The Stakeholder Advisory Council is also a formal channel through which all stakeholders, whether members of the Stakeholder Advisory Council or not, can provide their views to the MSC.

Formal correspondence sent directly to individual Stakeholder Advisory Council members or to the STAC collectively will be forwarded to MSC’s executive (Alene Wilton – MSC’s Chief Operating Officer) and copied to the Stakeholder Advisory Council Co-Chairs.  The MSC will respond, as appropriate, in accordance with its public correspondence protocol. The Stakeholder Advisory Council will not enter into direct correspondence.

Main activities

  • Provides views, advice, recommendations and informed opinions to the MSC Board of Trustees on the MSC Fisheries and Chain of Custody Standards, their implementation and application.
  • Provides strategic and tactical advice on other functions of the organisation, including where appropriate, commercial, development, outreach and communications programs.
  • Provides advice and views on existing and emerging issues which may affect the ability of the MSC to implement its program and achieve its strategic goals, and to bring new issues that may affect the MSC’s ability to achieve its mission to the MSC for consideration.
  • Addresses and gives views on specific matters on which the Board of Trustees requests advice. 
  • Submits its views to the MSC Board of Trustees, which considers this input when making decisions.

The Stakeholder Advisory Council meets at least once per year.


The Stakeholder Advisory Council has two Co-Chairs, serving 3-year terms. These are arranged so that the Co-Chairs have staggered appointments. Each Co-Chair serves as an ex-officio member of the MSC Board of Trustees. 

Appointment and structure

Appointments to the Stakeholder Advisory Council are made by the MSC Board of Trustees. Members normally serve three year terms, and may be appointed for up to two terms.

The Council comprises up to seventeen members, six of whom are from the seafood industry (processing or harvest), six of whom are from the conservation community; and two from the market sector.  Within this membership, the MSC strives to ensure adequate representation from developing world and small-scale fishery interests. The remaining three seats on the Council are undesignated, and used to ensure a balanced membership in the light of the MSC’s strategic objectives.

Read the MSC Stakeholder Advisory Council - Terms of Reference

Further information

Please email Alene Wilton, MSC Chief Operating Officer for further information on the MSC Stakeholder Advisory Council.



The Marine Stewardship Council International Board

Marine Stewardship Council International (MSCI) is a wholly owned trading subsidiary of the MSC. Its Board provides oversight of MSCI’s commercial and marketing activities, which are primarily focused on ecolabel licensing, and supporting public education campaigns and growing awareness and understanding of sustainable seafood and the MSC ecolabel.

Membership includes the Chair of the MSC Board of Trustees and the MSC’s Chief Executive. 

The Chair of the MSCI Board is an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees.



Subsidiary boards

The MSC has established several other subsidiary companies in key jurisdictions, most of which are registered charities.  These are separate legal entities for the purposes of taxation, regulation and charitable activities. Each has a board to oversee its operations.

All our main governance bodies include representatives from different geographical regions, ensuring that our strategies, standards and policies are globally applicable. All members must conform with our Declaration of Interest policy.


MSC Articles of Association
Date of issue: 20 December 2019

More about the MSC

Reports and brochures

Reports and brochures

Read or download the MSC Annual Report and other documents. For 20 years we've been part of a team effort to keep oceans healthy and seafood sustainable.

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How we meet best practice

How we meet best practice

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