The Fisheries Certification Process Review

The Fisheries Certification Process (FCP) is the instruction manual for Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs). It defines eligibility criteria for certification and the processes they must follow when assessing a fishery against the MSC Fisheries Standard.

We review our fisheries assessment process every few years to ensure it remains robust, transparent and credible, and to address stakeholder concerns.

The latest review of the Fisheries Certification Process began in 2020, alongside the current Fisheries Standard Review.

If a new version of the Standard is released, the Fisheries Certification Process will have to be revised accordingly. A revised version of the process, and associated program documents, will therefore be published with a revised version of the MSC Fisheries Standard in 2022.

Improving the Fisheries Certification Process

Through the Fisheries Certification Process Review we will improve understanding and implementation of existing requirements and processes of the FCP. This will ensure that fishery assessments are consistent and credible.

How the Fisheries Certification Process could change

The revised process will incorporate changes to the Standard resulting from the current Fisheries Standard Review.

In addition, we are addressing two separate issues with our current process:

Timing and coordination of harmonisation activities for overlapping fisheries

Overlapping fisheries -  those that target the same stocks, operate within the same management frameworks and impact the same habitats and  species -  should receive consistent scores and conditions of certification. When overlapping fisheries are assessed, they must go through a harmonisation process to make sure that scores and conditions have been consistently applied by assessors.

Currently there is ambiguity around how assessors should coordinate the harmonisation process. This has led to uncertainty, lengthy harmonisation activities and delays to assessments and surveillance audits. As the number of fisheries achieving MSC certification increases, so does the need for harmonisation. It is important that the process is clear and applied consistently and effectively.

We will clarify the timing, duration and coordination of harmonisation activities and improve access to information about overlapping fisheries to support Conformity Assessment Bodies in planning harmonisation activities.

Download our impact assessment report below detailing the positive and negative impacts associated with the Harmonisation project.

MSC Fisheries Certification Process Review: Impact Assessment Report - Harmonisation
Description: Summary of impact assessment for policy options on the 'Harmonisation' project, part of the Fisheries Certification Process review

Language: English
Date of issue: 22 April 2021

General processes - clarifying and improving existing requirements and guidance

We will clarify existing requirements and improve understanding and implementation of the assessment process. This will make sure fishery assessments are more consistent and efficient.


Progress so far

Fisheries Certification Process review workshop

In May 2021 we held a workshops with assessors to explore the best approach to coordinate harmonisation activities and how to make the process more efficient. We also discussed general clarifications required to improve the assessment process.

We have published a summary report from the workshop, containing details of the project and feedback received.

Download the summary report from the workshop below.

MSC Fisheries Certification Process Review - Assessor Workshop summary report - May 2021
Description: Summary report from the assessor workshops held in May 2021 as part of the Fisheries Certification Process Review.

Language: English
Date of issue: 19 August 2021

Next steps

We will use feedback from the workshop to further develop the harmonisation process and draft proposed changes to the requirements.

By the end of 2021, we will have draft of the revised MSC Fisheries Standard and Fisheries Certification Process, which will be reviewed by our governance bodies.

Reviewing the draft Standard and Fisheries Certification Process

All stakeholders will have an opportunity to review the proposed changes to the Fisheries Certification Process in 2022. 

The new Fisheries Standard and Fisheries Certification Process will be released later in 2022 following approval from our Board.

Sign up to our Fisheries Standard Review mailing list to receive updates about the review, engagement events and consultations.

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