Most fisheries need to make significant improvements before they can meet our Fisheries Standard. Our In-Transition to MSC (ITM) program supports fisheries to make measurable, independently verified progress towards certification.
The MSC Fisheries Standard is the leading international standard for sustainable fishing and is used to assess if fisheries are well-managed and environmentally sustainable.
But to safeguard seafood supplies for this and future generations, we know we need to make our program accessible to fisheries worldwide – including those that face challenges in making sustainability improvements.
The In-Transition to MSC program supports fisheries of all sizes and all locations that are committed to achieving certification, but not yet ready to enter assessment against our Fisheries Standard.
The program requires fisheries to seek regular independent verification of the improvements being made as they progress towards meeting our Standard. This will enable fisheries to demonstrate the credibility of their commitment to sustainability.
The In-Transition to MSC program is in a pilot phase until the end of 2024. During this time, the details of the program – including cost and terms of participation – are subject to change.
View the list of fisheries currently in the In-Transition to MSC program.
Why join the In-Transition to MSC program?
The program helps prepare fisheries for assessment against the MSC Fisheries Standard, and potential certification.
The MSC has a reputation as the global leader in fishing sustainability. For suppliers looking to source from fisheries in improvement projects, ITM fisheries can offer the added credibility that comes with our independent verification system.
Our improvement tools help fisheries identify where changes are needed, develop an improvement action plan, and monitor progress.
Conformity assessment bodies (CABs), which have been accredited to perform MSC assessments, will carry out an independent verification of the improvements being made. This will enable fisheries to demonstrate progress to all stakeholders.
Fisheries that are small-scale or in developing economies are also eligible to apply for financial support from the MSC’s Transition Assistance Fund. This will support the cost of fishery improvements.
However, fisheries in the In-Transition to MSC program cannot use the MSC ecolabel.
What does the Program involve?
There are three stages to the In-Transition to MSC program:
1. Entering the program
A fishery needs to be independently assessed by a conformity assessment body (CAB) to confirm it is eligible. The CAB can then apply to the program on the fishery’s behalf.
2. Regular review of progress
A CAB will verify the fishery’s progress against its action plan. Fisheries are aiming to improve their scores against the Performance Indicators identified through a pre-assessment or an assessment report against the MSC Fisheries Standard.
3. Transition to assessment against the MSC Fisheries Standard
A fishery is expected to enter assessment against our Standard, with the prospect of achieving a pass, after it has achieved all its score improvements.
The In-Transition to MSC program is open for applications from any fishery, regardless of size or location.
To be eligible, fisheries must:
- Be committed to achieving certification and plan on entering assessment against the MSC Fisheries Standard within five years.
- Be within the scope of the MSC program.
- 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).
- Or, have a valid MSC assessment report.
- Develop of an improvement action plan that is verified by a CAB.
- Use the defined MSC improvement tools, including the MSC benchmarking and tracking tool and progress verification reporting template, to track progress against the MSC Fisheries Standard.
- Have a project manager who can dedicate time to implementing improvements.
How can fisheries apply?
The program is open year-round 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 contact your local MSC office.
Read more on the In-Transition to MSC program, and its eligibility requirements.
Transitioning to the new Standard
The MSC Fisheries Standard version 3.0 was published on 26 October 2022, following the most comprehensive review to date.
In addition to the new Standard, we have introduced a policy requiring all fisheries to be certified to version 3.0 by 01 November 2028.
This means that all fisheries in the In-Transition to MSC program must have a pre-assessment against version 3.0 by 01 November 2028.
Fisheries should discuss their options for staying on Standard v2.01 and transitioning to v3.0 with their regional MSC representative.
Information for Conformity Assessment Bodies
The In-Transition to MSC (ITM) Program Requirements and Guidance provides an outline of the procedures used by CABs to confirm compliance with entry requirements for the In-Transition to MSC program and verify continuous progress.
CABs should also use the designated MSC templates to report on a fishery's eligibility for the Program and verify the progress made.
Find out more
Fishery improvement tools
The MSC has several improvement tools to support the progress of fisheries towards MSC certification.
Technical consultants register
Our technical consultants register lists experts who can provide services to fisheries as they work towards meeting the MSC Fisheries Standard.
Our Capacity Building Program
Our Capacity Building Program supports fisheries that are improving towards sustainability and MSC certification.