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31 January, 2024

The MSC launched Version 3 of its Fisheries Standard in May 2023. Since its release, we have engaged in an intensive roll-out program, testing the new requirements with fisheries and gathering extensive feedback from independent assessors and fishery partners at workshops held around the world. This process has highlighted areas that need to be amended. As a result, the MSC will release an updated Standard in July 2024 to ensure its requirements are applied consistently and deliver the intended sustainability outcomes.

This will be followed by an independent review of the new Evidence Requirements Framework. (ERF). The ERF is a new approach to the assessment of evidence in the MSC program and the Board agreed at launch that it would be reviewed to ensure it is working as intended. This will begin in July 2024, led by experts in fisheries assessment. Among the issues to be addressed, is whether the framework can be applied in a more efficient manner, leading to less complexity and cost. Input from NGO and industry stakeholders will be sought in the course of the review.

Some fisheries are already moving into Version 3, and those with a favourable pre-assessment should consider going forward with certification. However, in light of the changes, fisheries are being given the option of continuing to use Version 2.01 for a further two years.

A new derogation will be effective from 1 February 2024. The extended timelines will allow all changes to Version 3 to be made and thoroughly tested before fisheries are required to be assessed against the updated Standard.

Under the derogation, new fisheries can now use Version 2.01 until 1 February 2026 while currently-certified fisheries have until 1 November 2030 to transition to the updated Version 3.