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Some fisheries catch closely related species that look the same and are impossible to separate. Such species are referred to as inseparable or practicably inseparable (IPI). We want to make sure the MSC Fisheries Standard is clear on how to assess the stocks of these difficult-to-separate species.

The MSC Fisheries Standard Review 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.

New MSC Fisheries Standard approved

We have developed new guidance on reference periods for IPI stocks, to ensure assessments are more consistent and take a more precautionary approach. 

New five-year reference period

We have provided guidance for IPI designation reference periods (the time period for which IPI catch compositions are collected).

Assessors should now use a five-year average reference period to understand catch composition. By reviewing the previous five years of catch, assessors will be better informed of the average catch composition (including non-target species) year on year and whether it encompasses IPI stocks.

Where fisheries do not have the data or species have certain characteristics which make this a difficult timeframe (such as species which do not live for five years), assessors can amend the reference period but must provide a justification for their choice. 

Five years was found to be the most common reference period used for IPI stocks by assessors, so we do not expect this revision to place a significant extra burden on assessors. 

Implementing the new Standard

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

Certified fisheries will 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

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. 

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 clarified requirements for the assessment of inseparable stocks:

Find out more about how we develop our standards.

 
Fisheries Program Documents

Fisheries Program Documents

The MSC Fisheries Standard and General Certification Requirements.