MSC removes surplus requirement for high performing fisheries

5 November 2020

The MSC has identified an inconsistency in the application of a clause of the MSC Fisheries Standard. Following a review by the independent oversight body ASI we are correcting this with a change to our requirements.

The change relates to the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), is only relevant for fisheries with gear that touches the seabed, and only applies to fisheries already delivering global best practice on this requirement.

The MSC Fisheries Standard requires fisheries to ensure they do not cause serious or irreversible harm to vulnerable marine ecosystems. To achieve global best practice, fisheries must have clear strategies for avoiding these ecosystems.

Fisheries that do not have these strategies need basic move-on rules to achieve MSC certification. These rules require that if a vessel’s fishing gear comes into contact with a potentially vulnerable marine ecosystem, the vessel moves to a different area before it carries on fishing. This may be triggered by, for example, catching certain species.

Previously, fisheries with strong protection measures might have also been asked to show they have a basic move-on rule in place. But these are not necessary if they already have stronger systems in place. For example, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) or other kinds of area closures may restrict fishing activity and can help to protect vulnerable ecosystems. We recognise that these kinds of tools can deliver the right outcomes, and that move-on rules are not always necessary.

The change was triggered by an independent review of fishery assessment reports by ASI, initiated in April 2020, with additional analysis and impact assessments by the MSC. This showed that the redundant requirements could be resulting in inconsistent assessment results for different fisheries. We therefore decided to not delay correcting this until the end of the current Fisheries Standard Review in 2022.

The change of requirements – or derogation – comes into effect on 5 November 2020 and will apply to all fisheries, including those currently in assessment. The full derogation text is available on our website.

  • '{{item.Image.Title}}', {{item.Image.Artist}}, {{item.Image.Description}}