Making the MSC Fisheries Standard more efficient

The MSC Fisheries Standard is used to assess if a fishery is well-managed and sustainable.

Improving our standard

The MSC Fisheries Standard has a complex structure and scoring system. Applying it consistently in assessments can be long and costly. 

We want to simplify the Standard so it can be applied more efficiently. This will help to reduce the barriers for new fisheries seeking certification and help certified fisheries stay in the program more easily.

We also want to improve the collection of data, to ensure rigorous monitoring of fisheries is taking place and improve evidence-based decision making.


How could the standard change?

The changes proposed could lead to a change in requirements and guidance of the MSC Fisheries Standard. They will not impact the intent, rigour or thresholds of the Standard.

We aim to clarify language and definitions, reduce the number of components in the Standard and potentially simplify how fisheries are scored. We also aim to reduce redundancy in performance indicators for outcome, management and information for Principle 2.


Progress to date

Stakeholder consultations

We ran a consultation survey on the topic of ‘Reviewing proposals to restructure the MSC Fisheries Standard and simplify the scoring system’. The survey was open to all on the MSC website between 26 June and 29 July 2020.

We have published a consultation summary report, which includes survey feedback and a descriptive analysis of participants. Commercially sensitive and personal details have been redacted. Please note that the report does not contain details of policy direction. 

View the consultation summary report on 'Reviewing proposals to restructure the MSC Fisheries Standard and simplify the scoring system'.

Analysis and independent research

We have also carried out qualitative and quantitative analysis to identify the structural components of the Standard – such as performance and scoring indicators – that may not affect the outcome of assessments.

We have also held workshops with Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), assessors and independent experts to identify areas of the Standard that could be simplified without changing the intent.

We have now commissioned independent research to investigate alternative structures and scoring approaches that would enable us to maintain the same level of sustainability performance with a simplified structure.


Next steps

We are currently reviewing all feedback received from the consultation survey as well as independent research and our own internal data analysis. This will inform our decisions on the magnitude of changes to structure and scoring in this Fisheries Standard Review.

We will also carry out an impact assessment on the proposed changes considering, among other things, the feasibility for fisheries to make the changes and the impact on the accessibility of the MSC program to existing and prospective fisheries. We will also seek the advice of our governance bodies on the proposed changes. 

Find out more about the next steps in the Fisheries Standard Review.

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

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