Assessment of Low Trophic Level Fisheries — Marine Stewardship Council
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Assessment of Low Trophic Level Fisheries


In June 2009, the MSC Technical Advisory Board (TAB) considered issues raised by a number of stakeholders with regards to the assessment of LTL fish species against the MSC standard.  An MSC-funded project involving key NGO stakeholders and technical experts has since reviewed best practice in LTL fisheries and investigated the impacts of alternative levels of fishing using ecosystem models in five case study fisheries.  The extensive research and consultation processes used in the project have been described by Smith and Bartholomew 2010 (see paper D:04 here). Details about the case study and its findings are available here. Further background about the project can be found here.


The objective of the consultation was to receive feedback on the levels of precaution expected in fisheries based on species that qualify as “key LTL species”, specifically in terms of the default target reference point levels and the circumstances in which higher exploitation levels might be acceptable.  

Results of the consultation

The comments received from a wide range of stakeholders were detailed, and very useful in fine-tuning the guidance as needed to achieve consistent scoring.  Many comments focussed on the need for clarification of language or intent in the Directive.  Support was offered by some stakeholders for the use of the proposed default target reference points (75%B0) for key LTL species, and for including flexibility in those fisheries managed with surrogate reference points.  Some respondents suggested that the Directive did not go far enough to ensure protection of key LTL species or achieve consistent application of the proposals by CBs.  Other respondents argued that the requirements were too strict or not justified by current science or management practices, or would be too difficult to apply in practice.

These comments were considered by the MSC's Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and and addressed in the final version of the new requirements (TAB D-036), now available for download here. In addition, specific consultation responses have been prepared and circulated to consultees. The new directive has been issued to certifiers and will become effective on on August 15th, 2011.

Next steps

Certifiers will begin using new requirements (TAB D-036) as of August 15th, 2011. On November 14th, 2011, TAB D-036 will be replaced by the requirements contained in the MSC Certification Requirements.

Further information

Please direct any enquiries to:

Dan Hoggarth
MSC Senior Fisheries Assessment Manager
+44 207 246 8933

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