The MSC Chain of Custody Standard and associated scheme documents have been updated and will come into effect on 30 May 2023.
These updates were required following the release of the MSC Labour Eligibility Requirements, and the upcoming introduction of a digital audit platform for all Chain of Custody certification audits.
The impacts of these changes for Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) and Chain of Custody certificate holders are detailed below.
Updates to the MSC Chain of Custody Standard
Updates to the Chain of Custody Standard (Default, Group and Consumer-Facing Organisation versions), have been published and will come into effect on 30 May 2023.
Our requirements have not changed, but editorial updates have been made to ensure our Standard is being applied correctly.
The Standard revisions relate to:
Forced and child labour clauses have been removed from the Standard as they are now included in the separate MSC Labour Eligibility Requirements,
which came into effect on 1 May 2023.
Requirements for third-party labour audits or self-assessments have been extended to all applicants and certificate holders with processing, packing and/or manual offloading in their scope.
Existing requirements for handling certified seaweed products have now been incorporated into the main Default and Group Chain of Custody Standard versions. These requirements were previously housed in the Supplementary Requirements document for the ASC-MSC Seaweed certification program.
ASC Chain of Custody Certification
All organisations that wish to apply for or maintain their Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Chain of Custody certification must meet the new ASC Chain of Custody Module requirements from 30 May 2023.
Updates to Certification Requirements
The Chain of Custody Certification Requirements and General Certification Requirements have also been updated to:
- incorporate revisions related to the transition to the new digital audit platform
- clarify interpretative issues
- align with the relevant ISO Standards.
Digital audit platform
The MSC Chain of Custody certification audit platform is being digitised. This will see all audits conducted using one standardised platform for both MSC and ASC Chain of Custody, replacing the current eCert system. This will ensure audits are more consistent, efficient and scalable, and will strengthen program assurance and integrity.
What this means for CABs
We will launch a trial of the digital audit platform in mid-June 2023, which will involve the following CABs:
We expect to launch the platform to all accredited Chain of Custody CABs in September 2023, subject to the success of the trial.
What this means for certificate holders
During the trial period, Chain of Custody certificate holders whose CABs are taking part may experience a change in the layout of their certificate audit reporting. There is also a small chance that certificate holders’ data may appear inconsistently due to system error. In all instances where data error is detected, certificate holders should report the issue to their CAB immediately.
Updates to the audit process
Changes to the audit process will become effective on 1 November 2023. This is in accordance with the Chain of Custody Certification Requirements (version 3.2) and General Certification Requirements (version 2.6), and following full transition to the new digital audit platform.
What this means for CABs and certificate holders
Non-conformities: All non-conformities raised at any audits must be closed before a certification decision can be made. This will ensure our requirements align with ISO Standard 17065.
Minor non-conformities must now be addressed within the defined timeframe before a certificate can be issued by the CAB, and cannot be left open until the next audit.
Interim certificates: We have strengthened the process for granting interim Chain of Custody certificates. An interim certificate can only be granted in exceptional circumstances where an initial on-site audit is not possible. A remote initial audit would be required in this case, with an on-site follow-up audit within 90 days following interim certificate being issued.
Certificate transfers: Certificate holders wishing to transfer a Chain of Custody certificate to a new CAB must now sign a non-disclosure agreement with the CAB, prior to certificate holder data being shared, unless there is a written waiver.