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Our vision is for the world’s oceans to be teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations. The MSC program excludes fisheries and practices which are incompatible with this vision or are not in line with our organisational values.

We do not allow fishing that targets marine mammals (such as dolphins and seals), reptiles (such as turtles), birds or amphibians (such as frogs) as their primary catch to be certified. 

We exclude fisheries that use explosives or poisons, or entities convicted of forced and child labour violations. Vessels involved in a conviction for shark finning in the past two years are also ineligible for MSC certification. Find out how we have strengthened our requirements to ensure shark finning does not take place in MSC certified fisheries

The MSC Fisheries Standard Review, which included a review of our scope criteria, ended in June 2022. The new Standard was published on 26 October 2022 and will come into effect on 01 May 2023. Find out more about our new Standard

Changes to our scope criteria

We have developed new scope criteria that assessors will have to apply before considering a fishery for certification.

Exclusion of vessels convicted of serious crimes

This new criterion will exclude vessels convicted in the past two years of a serious crime, aligned with that used in the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. Our requirements include a list of applicable offences such as illegal fishing, trafficking and piracy. 

Fisheries certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard are amongst the highest performing in the world, and unlikely to have committed serious maritime crimes. However, these changes should motivate vessels and fisheries that are seeking certification to accelerate their progress in ensuring they comply with important maritime law. 

Implementing the new Standard

Fisheries seeking certification for the first time will need to adhere to the new Standard and new scope criteria from 01 May 2023.  

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

However, 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 (01 November 2028). 

Developing our Standard and scope criteria

In 2022, we published Version 3.0 of the MSC Fisheries Standard, following the most comprehensive review to date

The development of the Standard follows public consultation on key aspects of the review, including a 60-day public review of the draft Standard and all associated documents, including the proposed changes to the scope of our program. 

We also commissioned independent research and carried out data analysis and impact assessments to determine whether proposals are feasible and deliver our stated intentions. We also sought advice and input from our governance bodies throughout the process.  

Follow the links below to find out more about the different inputs which contributed to the development of our new scope criterion:

Find out more about how we develop our Standards.

Consultation on Review of the Fisheries Standard

Consultation on Review of the Fisheries Standard

A 60-day public review of the proposed revised MSC Fisheries Standard launches on Tuesday 01 February 2022.

The Fisheries Standard Review (home)

The Fisheries Standard Review (home)

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