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30 March 2020

The MSC's decision to offer certified fisheries a six-month extension on the usual timelines for assessments and certifications reflects the enormous challenges that the coronavirus pandemic is posing to the global seafood industry.

It is the first time in our 22-year history that such a step has been taken and was unanimously agreed upon by our Board of Trustees.

Last week’s measures build on our previous decision to allow remote audits of fisheries and Chain of Custody certificate holders. 

The six-month period is effective until 27 September 2020. We’ll  keep the situation under review as the impacts of pandemic continue to unfold.     

Fishery partners who wish to go ahead with remote audits and existing timelines, can do so if this is feasible and agreed with Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs).  

For supply chain businesses with an MSC Chain of Custody certificate, audits can still be conducted remotely. We’ve not offered an "automatic" six-month certification extension to these businesses because firms in some places have begun to reopen, especially in China. However, if an on-site or remote audit is not possible due to the impacts of Covid-19, then a six-month extension can be requested.

Other MSC activities, such as the licensing of products, are carrying on as normal. Further details of the temporary changes to assessment and certification processes are on our website.

We will continue to do what we can to support our partners at this extraordinary time.

The MSC team will be contacting fisheries, CABs and partners in the sustainable seafood supply chain with further information in the coming days.

For CABs, we will provide additional guidance over the coming days  and follow up with a webinar. 

Our colleagues globally are available during their usual office hours on email, by telephone and video conference, despite most of our offices around the world having been temporarily closed.

If you do not have a regular MSC contact person, the email and telephone contact details for our regional offices are available here.

Some of our offices in Asia-Pacific remain open or have re-opened. However, as the situation is changing quickly we would ask that you confirm in advance if you have an in-person meeting scheduled.

The MSC and its Board of Trustees remain committed to supporting the livelihoods of fisheries, processors and retailers who’ve worked hard to bring sustainable fish to customers around the world.

Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC said: "This is an extraordinary moment in history, unprecedented in modern times. MSC is acutely aware that many of our partners are facing enormous challenges and uncertainty. For some it may be a question of survival.  

Whilst the regional situation varies, supply chains have been disrupted, in some cases broken, plants have been closed and vessels tied up. Management is quite rightly focusing on responding to the crisis. 

It is for this reason that we have implemented these new measures. MSC wants to do what it can to support our partners through these exceptionally challenging times."