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The MSC recognises that the global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the work of many of our partners around the word. This includes the suspension of monitoring and inspection activities, in line with statutory social distancing measures.

6 May 2020

Where necessary we are temporarily adapting our requirements to respond to practical and legal changes around the world.  Following our authorisation of remote audits issued on 28 February and six month extension for assessment and certification processes issued on 27 March we are now giving Chain of Custody certificate holders who are required to undergo independent labour audits more time to complete these.

In March 2019, we introduced labour auditing requirements for MSC certified seafood supply chains. This additional derogation extends the deadline by which Chain of Custody certificate holders must first comply to 28 March 2021, or their second audit against the revised standard (whichever is later). 

We recognise that in many cases it is not possible to hold viable labour audits without breaching widespread social distance and lockdown measures or compromising the welfare of staff, and that remote audits are not a suitable alternative for in-person labour audits.

The MSC condemns forced and child labour and this temporary delay does not change our commitment to minimise the risk of these violations occurring in MSC certified businesses. 

We understand some partners may have existing agreements with other certificate holders or licensees that commit them to holding labour audits. These are independent of the MSC and unaffected by this derogation, which provides alternative mechanisms to verify compliance for MSC certification only. The derogation does not relate to fisheries certification. 

See full details of the extension and conditions.

Rohan Currey, Chief Science and Standard Officer for the MSC, said: "We expect certificate holders to continue to conform to all other MSC Chain of Custody Standard requirements, and to show this in future audits. 

The MSC is working with partners and Conformity Assessment Bodies around the world to maintain the standards that give consumers confidence in our label, while also helping business adapt to this unprecedented global challenge."