Ensuring effective fisheries management systems are in place

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

Principle 3 of the MSC Fisheries Standard relates systems and policies for effective fisheries management. It states that fisheries must be well governed and have adequate monitoring and control systems in place. 

Improving our standard

We want to ensure that our management requirements still align with the latest in global best practice, and they are clear and consistently applied. Following a review of our existing requirements, we have identified five areas for potential improvement within Principle 3. 

Update best practice in the requirements for monitoring, control and surveillance 

We want to align requirements for monitoring, control and surveillance systems with current global best practice. Requirements need to be clear so that they are applied consistently by fishery assessors. 

Develop evidence requirements for scoring to strengthen fisheries monitoring

We want to make sure MSC certified fisheries are collecting consistent and reliable information on their activities, and that this information is reported clearly in assessment. To achieve this we are developing requirements which set out the type and quality of information needed to achieve certain scoring guideposts.  

Review how major issues in fisheries governance are assessed 

We are assessing whether scope requirements relating to fishing governance are fit for purpose. We are considering whether the use of scope criteria can be used to exclude individual fishers or vessels involved in illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. 

Review barriers to accessibility for small-scale and developing world fisheries

We are reviewing the accessibility of Principle 3 to make sure our requirements do not pose a barrier to small-scale fisheries or those from the Global South achieving certification. Barriers to accessibility could occur if the bar is set too high or if scoring guideposts are not clear.  

Clarify requirements in terms of the language and definitions used

We want to make sure the intent of our requirements and guidance, and the definitions used in them, are clear and unambiguous.


Progress so far

We have systematically reviewed our requirements including the scope criteria in relation to Principle 3. We have also completed an external review of accessibility in Principle 3.  

To develop evidence requirements, we have carried out a comprehensive review of our scoring requirements, and held workshops on fishery monitoring best practice with expert stakeholders. 

How could the standard change?

This review could lead to a change in intent of the MSC Fisheries Standard. This is primarily due to the need to strengthen the quality of the evidence required to assess fisheries effectively and consistently.  

Some Performance Indicators within Principle 3 of the Standard may be restructured to ensure the requirements for what is best practice are clearer. We may also improve the wording of some of the scoring issues to make the requirements easier to understand.  

We hope this will provide clear goals that fisheries can work towards and help certification bodies around the world deliver consistent outcomes in assessments.


Get involved

Stakeholders are at the heart of our Fisheries Standard Review, helping identify issues, develop solutions and test the possible impacts of any proposed changes. We are holding a series of stakeholder consultation events in 2020 and 2021 including virtual workshops and online surveys.

In June 2020, we held virtual workshops on 'Introducing requirements on the type and quality of evidence needed for scoring fisheries'. Stakeholders could provide additional input through an online form.

Stakeholders were also invited to provide input into 'Establishing best practice in monitoring, control and surveillance' through an online consultation survey.

To be notified of future activities please sign up for our Fisheries Standard Review update



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