The Fisheries Standard Review

Every five years the MSC initiates a Fisheries Standard Review (FSR) to help us ensure our assessment and certification system remains the leading measure of fisheries sustainability.

The MSC Fisheries Standard is the leading international standard for sustainable fishing and is based on United Nations FAO guidelines for ecolabelling. More than 15% of the world seafood harvest is now certified as sustainable to this standard.

Every five years we review the Fisheries Standard to incorporate widely accepted new science and fisheries management best practice. We also do this to improve its implementation and address stakeholder concerns.

Stakeholders from all sectors are at the heart of our review, helping identify issues, develop solutions and test proposed changes. See how you can get involved below.


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 could be revised?

At the start of the Fisheries Standard Review we looked at all areas of the Standard highlighted by stakeholders or our own policy processes as potentially needing revisions.

The review is currently exploring following areas (set out in the Terms of Reference):

As part of this Review, we are also making sure the way our Standard is written makes it easier to understand. This will not change the requirements or intentions of the Standard, but should make them less complex and more efficient. We may also add new guidance to make sure assessments are more consistent and our intentions on all three principles are achieved by certified fisheries around the world.

No changes outside of the Terms of Reference will be included in this Review.

Revisions to the Standard will only be made if the MSC Board of Trustees 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.


How to get involved in reviewing the Fisheries Standard

Any proposed revisions will be open to consultation in 2020 and 2021. Full details of all consultation activities will be posted on this website.

Sign up to register your interest in the FSR and to be notified when consultation opens.

What is happening when?

The current Review started in 2018 and will run until 2022. We have completed research into the topics identified in the Terms of Reference, and are now moving on to developing preferred options for revisions.

The focus in 2020 will be on agreeing what the Standard is trying to achieve in any specific area where changes could be made. We will consult stakeholders to develop options for how the Standard should be revised.

If a revised Standard is proposed, the focus in 2021 will be on reviewing the new document. We will work with stakeholders to ensure changes are clear  and that the new Standard delivers the intentions of our program.

Timeline for the Fisheries Standard Review

April - December 2020Consultation to develop preferred options for how the Standard should be revised.
2021Consultation on the draft Revised Standard.
March 2022Release date of any new Standard, if approved by the board.
September 2022Fisheries joining the program must use the new Standard.
April 2024Last MSC certificate issued under Fisheries Standard v1.3 expires: all current certificates assessed under Fisheries Standard 2.0 or later.
March 2025Certified Fisheries must use the new Standard in future reassessments.
March 2030All (re)assessments now under new Standard.
March 2035Closed conditions mean all certified fisheries have adopted the best practice of the new Standard for all performance indicators.

When would changes to the Standard happen?

The MSC Board of Trustees will make the final decision on implementation of any changes. If changes are confirmed, the revised Standard will be released in March 2022.

Fisheries seeking certification for the first time will need to adhere to any new Standard six months after it is released. For certified fisheries there is a 3-year is a grace period set by the FAO before a new Standard applies in any assessment. And there is no requirement for them to have an assessment before their existing 5-year certificate expires.

Questions and raising new issues

While it is too late to add issues to the current review, you can suggest new issues that will be considered as part of the MSC's ongoing policy development process and could form part of the next review. Find out more about how you can participate in our policy development process.

For further details about our current Fisheries Standard Review, or copies of reports from past public consultations, please email



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