Fishery Improvement Projects

Increasing market demand for sustainable seafood has led to considerable growth of Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs).

Credible FIPs are multi-stakeholder initiatives that aim to improve a fishery towards sustainability and MSC certification. The MSC works to support such improvement by developing tools and building capacity on the ground.

How the MSC defines a credible FIP

The MSC recognises the important contribution that FIPs can make to improving overall fisheries health and in promoting sustainable seafood. However, we believe that it is important that they are operated in a manner that is credible: that their actions are transparent; that they clearly show improvement in fishery performance; and that these fisheries ultimately demonstrate their sustainability through a robust, independent assessment process. 

Our credible FIP definition is supported by a capacity building program and a series of fishery improvement tools that help stakeholders, funders and retailers monitor the progress of FIPs against the MSC Fisheries Standard as a best practice benchmark.

4 steps to a credible FIP

A credible FIP involves four key steps, each with associated tools and support mechanisms.

  1. Undertake MSC pre-assessment

    A gap analysis against the MSC Fisheries Standard is the first stage of a credible FIP. The MSC Pre-Assessment Template can be used for this and should be carried out by an approved assessor.

  2. Develop an action plan for improvement

    An action plan linked to MSC performance indicators and designed to close gaps in the performance of the fishery should be developed by someone with MSC expertise using the MSC Action Plan Tool. The end goal should be reaching the MSC Fisheries Standard.

  3. Implement actions and track progress

    Implement the actions as set out in action plan and track progress consistently and transparently using the MSC's Benchmarking and Tracking Tool. Progress should be publicly reported on an annual basis.

  4. Enter full MSC assessment

    Validate the improvements in the fishery toward sustainability through the comprehensive, transparent and independent MSC assessment process. This must be carried out by an accredited certification body.

The MSC definition of a credible FIP
Description: The MSC believes Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) must be transparent and demonstrate measurable improvement. This document lists criteria for credibility.

Language: English
Date of issue: 17 September 2015

Fishery improvement tools

The MSC has several improvement tools to support the progress of fisheries towards MSC certification:

Pre-assessment template

An MSC pre-assessment provides a determination of how a fishery performs against the MSC Standard. This allows for gaps in performance to be outlined. The process for undertaking an MSC pre-assessment is described in the MSC Fisheries Certification Requirements.  

MSC Pre-Assessment Reporting Template v3.1
Description: This document provides guidance on the pre-assessment (PA) of fisheries against the MSC Fisheries Standard and its operational interpretation, the Fisheries Certification Process (FCP).

Language: English
Version: 3.10
Date of issue: 17 December 2018
Date effective: 28 March 2019

Fishery Improvement Action Plan Tool

The purpose of this tool is to provide templates and operational guidance for developing a fishery improvement action plan that will address the gaps in a fishery's performance. This includes timeframes, milestones, resources, responsibilities, and budgets needed to move a fishery towards sustainability. Action plans are intended to help potential MSC clients set out and implement actions to allow the fishery to meet MSC performance requirements within a specified timeframe. 

MSC Fishery Improvement Action Plan guidance
Description: A guide for using action plan templates to make fisheries improvements in preparation for MSC certification.

Language: English
Date of issue: 05 May 2015

Partnering for Sustainable Fisheries guide

A guide on how to develop and work in partnerships with key stakeholders, covering the resources, funds, knowledge, skills and experience needed to support fisheries improving towards MSC certification.

Partnering for sustainable fisheries guide
Description: A guide for working in partnerships to support MSC certification for small-scale and developing world fisheries.

Language: English
Date of issue: 05 May 2015

Benchmarking and Tracking Tool (BMT) 

The Benchmarking and Tracking Tool (BMT) allows a fishery to benchmark the environmental performance of a FIP against the MSC Fisheries Standard. Users can also track the FIP's actual and expected progress.

The BMT provides a method of consistently reporting information about status of a FIP and generates a visual summary dashboard of information to help interested parties understand how the fishery is progressing. 

MSC Benchmarking and Tracking Tool guidance document
Description: Full guidance for the use of the MSC Benchmarking and Tracking tool which allows to measure the progress of Fishery Improvements against the MSC Fisheries Standard.

Language: English
Date of issue: 11 August 2014
MSC Benchmarking and Tracking Tool Excel spreadsheet v2.1
Description: Our Benchmarking and Tracking Tool (BMT) allows users to benchmark the performance of a fishery or FIP against the MSC Fisheries Standard.

Language: English
Version: 2.10
Date of issue: 20 September 2015
MSC Benchmarking and Tracking tool - Excel spreadsheet for Salmon fisheries
Description: Use this Excel spreadsheet to generate BMT dashboards and reports for salmon fisheries

Language: English
Date of issue: 09 December 2014
MSC Benchmarking and Tracking tool brochure
Description: An introduction to the Benchmarking and Tracking Tool (BMT) which allows a fishery to benchmark the environmental performance of a Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) against the MSC Fisheries Standard.

Language: English
Date of issue: 09 December 2015

Risk-based Framework

Access to data can be a barrier to MSC assessment, this is particularly true for small scale and developing world fisheries. The MSC has a set of precautionary risk-based indicators for the assessment of data-deficient fisheries.


Help for FIPs

Our technical consultants register below lists experts who can provide services to fisheries as they work towards meeting the MSC Standard. 

Those listed on the register understand the requirements of the MSC Fisheries Standard. They can help with: 

  • Conducting a gap analysis of fishery performance against the Standard
  • Developing and assisting in the implementation of a fisheries improvement action plan
  • Project managing MSC assessments or liaising between the fishery and the assessment body 

The technical consultant register is tiered. Individuals are listed as either technical consultants or associate technical consultants. The difference between the two tiers is the level of practical experience in the application of the MSC Fisheries Standard that the consultant has.


Technical consultants

Name, email link and company


David Japp
African and developing country fisheries. Projects include Kenya. Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.  
Duncan Leadbitter
Fish Matter Pty Ltd
Sustainability assessment, policy development, experience in Asia Pacific countries fisheries.
Fiona Nimmo
Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd (Scotland office)
Fisheries management, environmental interactions, environmental assessments and sustainable development. Experience in European and Asian fisheries.
Graeme MacFadyen  
Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd (Geneva office) 
Fisheries policy, management, MCS/IUU, economics, trade/marketing, value-chains, evaluation. Experience in Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa and Americas. 
Graeme Parkes
MRAG Ltd, United Kingdom
Fisheries resource assessment, marine fisheries development, resource survey, fisheries development policy and strategic planning. 
Jo Gascoigne 
MacAlister Elliot and Partners (MEP)
Fisheries consultant, specialising in fisheries assessment and management, management of shellfish resources and culture and environmental and ecological studies relating to fisheries.  
Kevin Stokes 
Wide ranging fisheries science, management, policy and governance. Experience working with government and industry and in multi-stakeholder settings.
Paul Medley  
Independent Consultant (UK) 
Fisheries stock assessment, specialisation in tropical small-scale fisheries, data collection and scientific management advice.
Richard Banks  
Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management (Pty) Ltd (Australia-Pacific office) 
Governance, fisheries policy and management, compliance, bycatch management, harvest strategies, rules and tools. Specialises in Australia, Pacific, all ASEAN countries, South Asia, China and New Zealand.
Rich Lincoln 
Ocean Outcomes (USA)
Diverse experience in fisheries management, research, policy, third-party certification, fishery assessments, and fishery improvement gap analyses and work plan design/consulting - in a wide range of jurisdictions, species and geographies.
Dr Rob Blyth-Skyrme 
Ichthys Marine Ecological Consulting Ltd. (UK) 
Fisheries science, management and policy specialist with experience in North America and Europe.
Rod Cappell  
Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd (Scotland office) 
Fisheries policy, economics and sustainable development. Experience in European, Asian and Middle Eastern fisheries.
Dr Sophie des Clers 
Greenfishers Consultants
Fisheries public and business policy, economics and management.
Tim Huntington  
Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd (UK Main office)
Specialist in environmental interactions with fisheries (bycatch and discards, ETP, habitats and trophic changes) in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Particular experience  with tuna, groundfish and shrimp fisheries.
Tristan Southall  
TDS Marine Resource Management (UK)
Fishery policy analysis and marine consultancy.
Dr. Robert Wakeford 
MRAG Ltd. (UK) 
Fisheries management and policy, stock assessment, 
environmental impacts and programme management. 
Experience of high latitude and tropical ecosystems, 
including small-scale multi-species fisheries and 
industrial fisheries. 

Associate consultants 

An associate technical consultant has had comprehensive training, but has not been part of a full MSC assessment or surveillance team.

Dr Jocelyn Drugan

Ocean Outcomes

Experienced researcher in ecology and population dynamics of salmon and groundfish.

Experience as a fishery management analyst conducting fishery evaluations and supporting the implementation of fishery improvement projects.

Ocean Outcomes is dedicated to improving high risk fisheries that face the toughest sustainability issues and have the most to gain from improvements.

Dr Carola Kirchner

Independent consultant

Fisheries management and stock assessment experience in tuna, deep-water, demersal, midwater and pelagic species. Based in Namibia.
Patricia Livingston
Ecologists Without Borders
Fisheries ecologist with extensive experience in ecosystem modelling, developing data sampling programs and provision of scientific advice.
Ecologists Without Borders is a non-profit organisation that is able to offer free technical support to FIPs that are financially unable to afford the typical consultancy fees. Based in the USA.
Stewart Norman
CapMarine Ltd.
Fisheries management analyst in African fisheries. Experience working with government, industry and RFMOs. Specialist in tuna ecology and genetics. Experience with data collection and scientific management advice and supporting the implementation of fishery improvement projects.
Samuel PeacockFisheries certification consultant with experience in Europe, North and South America, and South-East Asia. Involved in certification projects at all levels of the fisheries supply chain.

Code of Good Practice

Individuals and organisations listed as being able to provide technical support for fisheries improvements must have signed up to the Code of Good Practice for technical consultants.

MSC Code of Good Practice for technical consultants
Description: Individuals and organisations listed as technical consultants for fishery improvements have signed up to the Code of Good Practice.

Language: English
Date of issue: 06 September 2011

Technical consultants register disclaimer

This information is provided as a resource only; the inclusion of individuals or organisations in this list does not constitute endorsement by the MSC or by Accreditation Services International. MSC includes consultants in this list upon receiving statements of experience provided by consultants, where such experience at face value meets the requirements outlined in the MSC's Technical Consultants Requirement document, where such consultants have signed up to the Code of Good Practice and where such consultants have provided references satisfactory to the MSC. The MSC does not carry out further checks to ascertain the expertise of such consultants. Anyone engaging a consultant from this list must satisfy themselves that the consultant is suitable for their particular purpose. Neither the MSC nor Accreditation Services International accepts any duty of care to anyone using this list. Neither MSC nor Accreditation Services International will have any liability to any party in respect of performance or suitability of any consultant or in relation to any failure by a consultant to adhere to the Code of Good Practice. Consultants provide Fisheries Improvement services as independent contractors.

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