The MSC and its response to the coronavirus pandemic

Fishing communities and seafood businesses worldwide continue to put seafood on our tables despite dealing with travel bans, social distancing requirements and other restrictions as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic. In response, our team at the Marine Stewardship Council has changed the way it is working so we can support our valued partners at this exceptionally challenging time. Some of the changes we’ve put in place since the virus outbreak include:

20 March 2020 (updated 26 February 2021) 


Audits and assessments

In 2020, fisheries were offered a six-month extension on the usual timelines for MSC assessments and certifications. There will be no further changes to certification dates, but we are allowing Assessors to give fisheries an additional 12 months to complete any improvements required by their certificate that depend on actions or decisions by management agencies. The extension does not apply to other improvements or extend the length of their certificate.

We are continuing to permit remote auditing and assessment for both fishery and supply chain clients where Covid-19 restrictions or health concerns prevent on-site audits.  But we expect in-person visits to be carried out where possible, and have put in place risk mitigation measures where any business is entering certification for the first time.

Supply chain businesses with an MSC Chain of Custody certificate who are required to undergo an independent labour audit now have longer to complete this.  Another new change to our requirements is that they will also be able to submit a self-assessment instead, in which case the MSC will have the right to commission a labour audit of their sites. This gives us oversight of the risks of forced and child labour in MSC-certified supply chains, while giving partners the flexibility needed to show compliance with our requirements during the Covid-19 pandemic. Both of these alternatives are not required until their next annual audit scheduled after 28 May 2021. 



MSC Offices

We have temporarily closed most of our offices around the world, including our London headquarters, in response to government guidance and for the safety of our staff and stakeholders.

However, our colleagues globally are available during their usual office hours on email, by telephone and video conference. 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.


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