The MSC Fisheries Standard

The MSC Fisheries Standard is used to assess if a fishery is well-managed and sustainable.

The Standard reflects the most up-to-date understanding of internationally accepted fisheries science and management.

We review and develop the MSC Fisheries Standard in consultation with scientists, the fishing industry and conservation groups.

How is it used?

When a fishery is successfully certified to the Fisheries Standard, its certified catch can be sold with the blue MSC label.

Certification to the MSC Fisheries Standard is voluntary. It’s open to all fisheries who catch marine or freshwater organisms in the wild. This includes most types of fish and shellfish.

Fisheries are assessed by accredited independent certifiers called Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) – also called certification bodies. 

What is assessed?

The MSC Fisheries Standard has three core principles that every fishery must meet.

  1. Sustainable fish stocks

    Are enough fish left in the ocean? Fishing must be at a level that ensures it can continue indefinitely and the fish population can remain productive and healthy.

  2. Minimising environmental impact

    What are the impacts? Fishing activity must be managed carefully so that other species and habitats within the ecosystem remain healthy.

  3. Effective fisheries management

    Are operations well managed? MSC certified fisheries must comply with relevant laws and be able to adapt to changing environmental circumstances.

Graphic showing 3 principles of the MSC Fisheries Standard

Fisheries Certification Requirements

The Fisheries Certification Requirements (FCR) accompanies the Fisheries Standard. It sets out how the MSC Fisheries Standard should be interpreted by certifiers during assessments.

These requirements make sure that the Standard is applied equally to fisheries around the world, regardless of species, fishing method, environment or size. They also give certification bodies the guidance and support they need to assess a fishery against the Fisheries Standard. 

The Fishery Certification Requirements are regularly reviewed. An updated version of the requirements will be published late 2018. Another review of the requirements will be published in 2020.

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