Clarifying requirements for modified assessment trees

Fisheries wanting to become certified are assessed against the MSC Fisheries Standard using assessment trees, the hierarchy of the principles, components, performance indicators and scoring guideposts.

This hierarchy is known as the default assessment tree, which is Annex SA in our current Fisheries Standard. Although the current assessment works for most fisheries, it is hard to apply in some cases. This is because of the way some species, including bivalves and salmon, are managed. For example, mussels may initially grow on natural banks before being grown on artificial structures, which are currently not specified in the default assessment tree.

Improving our standard

We want to make sure that the modified assessment trees for bivalves (Annex SB), for salmon (Annex SC) and for introduced species (Annex SD) reflect best practice and continue to meet the MSC intent for sustainable fishing.

How could the standard change?

The proposed changes could lead to a change in requirements and guidance for the modified assessment tree annexes to the MSC Fisheries Standard. Furthermore, changes to the default assessment tree resulting from any other project under review in the Fisheries Standard Review will be reflected in updates to Annexes SB – SD where required. 


Progress so far

We have reviewed how Annexes SB – SD are implemented and identified areas for clarification. We also aim to incorporate the existing interpretations, which can be found in the MSC Interpretations Log, for salmon and introduced species based fisheries into the guidance for the Standard. This will address issues which have been noted by both the MSC and stakeholders.  

Modified assessment tree for bivalves (Annex SB)

We aim to extend the consideration of translocations and applicability of translocation performance indicators (PIs) from catch and grow fisheries to hatch and catch (HAC) fisheries. Currently, the only mention of applicability for Principle 2 indicators for HAC fisheries is contained in the guidance.

Modified assessment tree for salmon (Annex SC)

Unlike wholly marine species, salmon fisheries may have two types of inseparable and practically inseparable (IPI) stocks, described as non-target and non-local. We intend to clarify the requirements in the Fisheries Standard for IPI stocks.

Next steps

We are currently drafting new language and guidance for a revised Standard.

We will carry out pilot assessments and seek guidance from our Technical Advisory Board. This will make sure any changes to our Standard are feasible and achieve the expected outcomes. 

By the end of 2021, we will have a draft of the revised Standard, which will be reviewed by our governance bodies.

In early 2022, stakeholders will have an opportunity to review all proposed changes before any final decision to revise the Standard is made.

The new Standard will be released later in 2022 following approval from our Board.

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