Fishery Improvement Projects

Increasing market demand for sustainable seafood has led to considerable growth of Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs). We support credible FIPs with our tools and the In-Transition to MSC (ITM) program.

Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) are multi-stakeholder initiatives that aim to help fisheries work towards sustainability.

How we define a credible FIP

We believe it's important that FIPs are transparent, demonstrate measurable improvement and are operated in a credible manner. Key elements of our credible FIP definition are:

  • Completion of an MSC pre-assessment
  • Development of an improvement action plan
  • Regular reporting on progress
  • A mechanism to independently verify progress 
  • A clear timeline with an end date, generally not exceeding 5 years
  • Commitment to MSC certification.

Our In-Transition to MSC program

To support fisheries in credible FIPs we are piloting a new program called In-Transition to MSC (ITM). This program offers fisheries independent verification of their progress. 

We also support the progress of fisheries towards MSC certification with our fishery improvement tools.

What are the benefits of joining the ITM program?

Participation helps fisheries demonstrate their progress and commitment to potential funders and supporters of credible improvement projects. The program also helps fisheries prepare for entering full MSC assessment. 

Fisheries in the program are eligible to apply for financial support from the MSC’s Transition Assistance Fund to support the implementation of their action plans. 

Fisheries will not be eligible for MSC Chain of Custody certification, product labelling or business-to-business claims until they are fully certified.


Can my fishery enter the ITM program?

The ITM program is open for applications from small-scale fisheries and fisheries in the Global South.

To be eligible, fisheries must be committed to achieving MSC certification and plan on entering full assessment after completing the ITM period, which should not exceed five years.

To join, your fishery must meet the following requirements:

  • Have completed an MSC pre-assessment in the last three years that uses the full scoring sections in the current MSC pre-assessment template. This must have been conducted or verified by an accredited Conformity Assessment Body (CAB).
  • Have developed an improvement action plan that is verified by a CAB.
  • Use the defined MSC pathway tools, including the MSC benchmarking and tracking tool and progress verification reporting template to track progress against the MSC Fisheries Standard.
  • Identify an ITM project manager who can dedicate time to implementing improvements.

What happens if my fishery enters the ITM program?

  1. Entering the program

    A fishery needs to be independently assessed by a CAB to confirm it is eligible.

  2. Annual review of progress

    A CAB will verify the fishery’s progress against its action plan. Fisheries should be on target to achieve expected improvements.

  3. Transition to full assessment

    When a fishery has achieved all its score improvements, it is expected to enter full assessment for MSC certification with the prospect of achieving at least a conditional pass.

How can my fishery apply?

The ITM program is open to applications from fisheries that meet the eligibility requirements. 

If you are interested in applying or would like to know more about the program, please register your interest by emailing the Global Accessibility team

Find out more

More details on the ITM program and the eligibility requirements can be found in our brochure below. 

In-Transition to MSC (ITM) program brochure
Description: A guide to introduce fisheries to the In-Transition to MSC (ITM) program and explain the steps required to become eligible for the program.

Language: English
Date of issue: 16 September 2020

The Requirements and Guidance document below provides an outline of the procedures used by CABs to confirm compliance with entry requirements for the ITM program and verify continuous progress.

CABs should use the designated MSC templates to report on a fishery's eligibility for the ITM program and verify the progress made. 

In-Transition to MSC Program Requirements and Guidance
Description: An outline of the CAB procedures for confirming compliance with entry requirements for the In-Transition to MSC Program and verifying continuous progress.

Language: English
Version: 1.10
Date of issue: 30 September 2019
Date effective: 30 September 2019
Date superseded: 15 December 2020
In-Transition to MSC (ITM) Program fisheries list
Description: A list of the fisheries currently enrolled in the In-Transition to MSC (ITM) Program pilot

Language: English
Date of issue: 17 March 2021

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