The Fisheries Standard Review

We regularly carry out a formal review of the MSC Fisheries Standard to make sure our assessment and certification system remains the leading measure of fisheries sustainability.

The MSC Fisheries Standard is based on United Nations FAO guidelines for ecolabelling, and is reviewed at least every five years in line with the ISEAL Standard Setting Code of Best Practice

We review our Standard to reflect the evolution and uptake of best practice in fisheries management. We also make changes to improve the implementation of our Standard and address stakeholder concerns.

We are now entering the final stages of the Fisheries Standard Review and have developed a proposed revised Standard. The MSC Board of Trustees will decide whether to approve the new Standard in June 2022. 

What are the objectives of this review?

  1. To include better scientific understanding and fishery management practices in the Standard. 
  2. To make the Standard clearer for those using it in fishery assessments.
  3. To make the Standard less complex and remove barriers to fisheries joining and staying in the program.
  4. To make the Standard more accessible to fisheries in the Global South and make it more applicable to high priority species and ecosystems.
  5. To improve data collection and evidence-based decision-making.

Full details are given in the Fisheries Standard Review Terms of Reference.

 

What areas of the Fisheries Standard will be revised?

At the start of the Review we looked at all areas of the Standard highlighted by stakeholders or our own policy processes as potentially needing revisions. This includes making the way our Standard is written easier to understand.

The scope of the review is outlined in the Terms of Reference. No changes outside of this will be included in this Review.

We are reviewing our scope criteria, which are used to determine which fisheries are eligible for assessment against the MSC Fisheries Standard. We want to protect the credibility and integrity of MSC certification and ensure that certified fisheries meet the expectations of consumers and businesses. 

The Fisheries Certification Process will also be reviewed to improve understanding and implementation of existing requirements and processes. This will ensure that fishery assessments are consistent and credible.

Potential changes to the Fisheries Standard will be delivered through 16 distinct projects, listed below

Each project clearly sets out whether it has the potential to change the intention or requirements of our Standards. Some may only add new guidance to make sure assessments are more consistent and the intentions of our three principles are achieved by certified fisheries.

Two of the projects listed below have not yet delivered outcomes and are on extended timelines which have been agreed by our governance bodies.

What is happening when?

We are now entering the final stages of the review and have developed a proposed revised Standard.

We held a 60-day public review of the proposed changes between 01 February and 04 April 2022. This was the final opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposals. 

All feedback from the public review will be analysed alongside findings from further impact assessments and pilot tests. Changes will be incorporated into our proposals where appropriate. This will help us ensure the new Standard is clear and delivers the intent of our program.  

Publishing the new Standard

The MSC Board of Trustees will make the final decision on implementing of any the changes proposed in June 2022.

If a decision is made to approve the Standard, the Board will confirm when the new Standard will be published.

There will be a gap of a few months between the Board’s decision and the publication of the new Standard. This will allow for final editorial reviews and ensure training materials are prepared for Conformity Assessment Bodies and other stakeholders. 

Revisions to the Standard will only be made if the Board consider improved scientific understanding or fishery management best practice to be sufficiently widespread or accepted to justify a change. Any changes proposed should also deliver the objectives of the Review.

Implementing the new Standard

Fisheries seeking certification for the first time will need to adhere to any new Standard six months after it is published.

MSC certified fisheries will have at least three years before they need to transition to the new Standard. This is in alignment with the UN FAO Best Practice Guidelines for Ecolabelling

Alongside the Fisheries Standard Review, we are investigating the feasibility of introducing a maximum time limit for certified fisheries transitioning to the revised standard. 

 

Sign up to our mailing list to receive updates on the MSC Fisheries Standard Review.

Developing our Standard

Expand the sections below to find out more about how we developed the proposed MSC Fisheries Standard and associated program documents and guidance.

Questions

For further details about our current Fisheries Standard Review, to suggest new issues for future reviews, request copies of reports from past public consultations or any other suggestions, please email standards@msc.org.

Find out more about our policy development process.

 

 

 

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