Full assessment of fisheries toward certification — Marine Stewardship Council
Personal tools
Log in

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

You are here: Home Get certified! Get Certified! Fisheries Fishery assessment Step-by-step assessment

Full assessment of fisheries toward certification

Full assessment of a fishery to the MSC standard is a rigorous, public process. The appointed conformity assessment body (CAB) will provide an independent, objective, scientifically verifiable assessment.

The full assessment process is detailed in this diagram.

Fishery Assessment Process

It starts when the fishery client signs a contract with a CAB and the CAB notifies the MSC and other stakeholders that the fishery is entering full assessment.


Based on the CAB advice and pre-assessment findings (if applicable), the client fishery may decide to proceed into full assessment.


The CAB announces to stakeholders that the fishery is undergoing full assessment. The announcement will also include the assessment team and site visit, which will all be listed on the fishery's page under Track a fishery. This area will provide detailed update documents as the assessment process progresses.

In the meantime, a client document checklist will be made available to the fishery by the CAB to gather required information during the assessment. Fisheries may also want to prepare for media interest.

The fishery assessment will be conducted as per the MSC default assessment tree, which involves scoring against 28 different performance indicators. Alterations to the assessment tree are allowed, providing proposals for changes are made public for a 30-day stakeholder comments period.

Back to top


The site visit is designed for the assessment team to collect information and become aware of any stakeholder concerns about the fishery. Stakeholders may attend and/or provide written submissions with relevant information.

The assessment team compiles and analyses all relevant information. They will then, in one or more closed sessions, score the fishery. The team uses their expert judgement to agree upon a score for each performance indicator, based on the fishery's performance against each scoring issue.

 Back to top


Once the team has completed scoring, the CAB issues a Preliminary Draft Report for the fishery client's review. The report contains the scores, rationale and proposed certification outcome, where client is given up to 30 days to review and provide comments back to the CAB.

The report is then revised and sent to two independent experts for peer review. They provide a written review of the revised draft, which the CAB has to explicitly address and incorporate appropriate changes into the next report version. The CAB later announces the Public Comment Draft Report (PCDR), allowing at least 30 days for stakeholders to comment.

The Final Report is submitted after the assessment team has considered all comments received during the public consultation period and has revised the report as appropriate. The Final Report includes the final determination of whether the fishery should be certified. A period of 15 working days is allowed for previously involved stakeholders to file a notice of objection.

The purpose of the objections procedure is to provide an orderly, structured, transparent, and independent process by which objections to the final report and determination can be resolved. Read more about the objections procedure

If no objections have been raised during the period, the CAB decides to certify or fail the fishery and submits the Public Certification Report. If certified, the certificate is submitted and products from the fishery can then be sold as MSC certified.

Back to top


The MSC certificates are valid for five years. During this time, the accredited CAB will conduct annual audits to verify continued compliance.

 Back to top

Document Actions