Improvement tools, independent progress reports, and access to financial support are some of the ways the In-Transition to MSC program supports fisheries that need to make improvements before achieving MSC 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 recognise the importance of working with fisheries which face barriers to achieving MSC certification.
As part of the MSC’s Pathway to Sustainability, 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 Standard.
The Program requires fisheries to seek annual, 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 eventual certification.
Fisheries can access the MSC Fishery Improvement Tools and an independent verification system, to help support credible claims of progress towards environmental sustainability.
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 and products are not eligible for MSC Chain of Custody certification claims,
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.
2. Annual 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 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 at least a conditional 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).
- 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 StandardThe 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 interested in joining the In-Transition to MSC program, and those that have already been verified to version 2.0, should discuss their options for transitioning to version 3.0 with their regional MSC representative.
Information for Conformity Assessment Bodies
The In-Transition to MSC Program Requirements and Guidance document 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.