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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. 

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.

Eligibility requirements

The In-Transition to MSC program is open for applications from any fishery, regardless of size or location.

To be eligible, fisheries must: 

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 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

In-Transition To MSC

In-Transition To MSC

The MSC supports fisheries in FIPs that are committed to achieving certification with our In-Transition to MSC (ITM) program.

Fishery improvement tools

Fishery improvement tools

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

Technical consultants register

Technical consultants register

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