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.

New MSC Fisheries Standard approved

In June 2022, the MSC Board of Trustees approved the new MSC Fisheries Standard (version 3.0), bringing the Fisheries Standard Review to a close. 

This decision followed the most comprehensive review of the MSC Fisheries Standard ever undertaken in the 25-year history of the MSC.

Our new Standard includes significant improvements, including better protections for marine life, as well as stronger fisheries management and compliance requirements.

These improvements will ensure that MSC certified fisheries continue to be recognised as world leaders in sustainability.

Read our recent Board statement to find out more. 

Implementing the new standard

Over the next few months, the new Standard will undergo a final editorial review to ensure all text is clear. This time will also be used to prepare training materials and guidance for Conformity Assessment Bodies, fisheries and other users of the Standard

We intend to publish the new MSC Fisheries Standard (version 3.0) in October 2022.

Fisheries seeking certification for the first time will need to adhere to the new Standard from May 2023.  

We have introduced a new policy that requires all certificate holders to have completed reassessment to the MSC Fisheries Standard version 3.0 within six years of it being published (October 2028). Find out more about our implementation timeframes.

What were 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 were 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 included making the way our Standard is written easier to understand.

The scope of the review was outlined in the Terms of Reference. No changes outside of this were included in this Review.

Changes to the Fisheries Standard were delivered through 16 distinct projects. Expand the drop-down section below to read more about each project.

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

 

We also reviewed our scope criteria, which are used to determine which fisheries are eligible for assessment against the MSC Fisheries Standard. We wanted 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 was also reviewed to improve understanding and implementation of existing requirements and processes. This will ensure that fishery assessments are consistent and credible.

Implementing the new Standard

We intend to publish the new MSC Fisheries Standard (version 3.0) in October 2022.

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

Implementation timeframes

Fisheries seeking certification for the first time will need to adhere to the new Standard from May 2023. 

We have introduced a new policy that requires all certificate holders to have completed reassessment to the MSC Fisheries Standard version 3.0 within six years of it being published (October 2028). 

Certified fisheries will still have at least three years before they are required to begin the transition to the new Standard. This is in compliance with the UN FAO Best Practice Guidelines for Ecolabelling.  

Please note, the publication date of version 3.0 (and therefore the effective date, and deadline for recertification) may be subject to change.

Sign up to our mailing list to receive updates about the roll out of the new Standard.

Developing our Standard

Expand the sections below to find out more about how we developed the new 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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Working with mixed fisheries

Working with mixed fisheries

The MSC is working towards making the MSC program more accessible for mixed fisheries.

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Endangered, threatened and protected species

Endangered, threatened and protected species

The MSC ensures that certified fisheries allow the recovery of any Endangered, Threatened and Protected species.

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Ending shark finning

Ending shark finning

The MSC is committed to playing its part to help eliminate shark finning.

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Preventing lost and abandoned fishing gear (ghost fishing)

Preventing lost and abandoned fishing gear (ghost fishing)

The MSC is working towards reducing ghost fishing by rewarding best practice in gear management and supporting improving fisheries.

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Improving fisheries management

Improving fisheries management

The MSC seeks to reward best practice in fisheries management and to support fisheries that are working to improve their management systems.

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Minimising fishing impacts on ecosystems and habitats

Minimising fishing impacts on ecosystems and habitats

The MSC Fisheries Standard rewards fisheries that protect ecosystems and habitats in the places where they fish.

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Our approach to data-limited fisheries

Our approach to data-limited fisheries

The MSC is committed to supporting well-managed fisheries that do not have access to scientific data.

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Maintaining fish stocks

Maintaining fish stocks

Ensuring the sustainability of fish stocks is a core principle of the MSC Fisheries Standard.

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