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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 to systems and policies for effective fisheries management. It states that fisheries must be well governed and have adequate monitoring and enforcement systems in place.

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.

How has our Standard changed?

Establishing best practice in monitoring, control and surveillance

We have updated our guidance to specify that monitoring, control and surveillance systems should include a suite of well-integrated mechanisms and tools that work together to improve compliance with regulations before and during fishing, and during landing.

The new Evidence Requirement framework will also support the evaluation of a fishery’s compliance where appropriate. 

Ensuring that systematic non-compliance is not evident within a fishery would become a minimum requirement for certification.

To do this, assessors must check all relevant enforcement agency records but, to deal with weaker jurisdictions, there is also a requirement that systems are strong enough to detect systematic non-compliance, should it exist. This covers various aspects of fishing operations, including pre-fishing and landing, but with a strong focus on at-sea infringements.

Assessing individual compliance components

We have also clarified scoring issues to make it simpler for assessors to score fisheries and distinguish between different compliance and enforcement requirements in our standards. This will ensure that fisheries are scored on individual compliance components, rather than being given an all-or-nothing rating that involves aspects of all compliance scoring issues. 

The existing performance indicator structure would be retained, but the scoring guideposts have been updated to clarify the definition of current best practice. 

Assessing compliance with management rules

A new scoring issue has been added for assessing fishers’ compliance with management rules. This means fisheries must be assessed on the extent to which they are compliant separately from the information they provide to demonstrate compliance. 

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 updated requirements on monitoring, control and surveillance:

MSC Fisheries Standard version 3.0

MSC Fisheries Standard version 3.0

An overview of the changes made to our Standard.

Fisheries Program Documents

Fisheries Program Documents

The MSC Fisheries Standard and General Certification Requirements.