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We want to make sure that all fisheries that are well-managed and sustainable can become certified, even if they do not have all the data usually used by assessors to reach a certification decision.

Our Risk-Based Framework (RBF) can be used to assess data-limited fisheries against different performance indicators across the MSC Fisheries Standard. The RBF uses a precautionary approach to estimate aspects such as stock status and impacts on bycatch and habitats when conventional data, including reference points derived from analytical stock assessment models, doesn’t exist.

How has the Risk-Based Framework changed?

The new version of our Standard includes updates to the Risk-Based Framework to ensure it delivers precautionary and robust outcomes, and that it is aligned with the Standard's default assessment tree.

Tailored Productivity Susceptibility Analysis tool

We have tailored the Productivity Susceptibility Analysis (PSA) tool to better assess the impact of a fishery on out-of-scope species such as seabirds, marine mammals and reptiles. This will mean that during an assessment using the RBF, the risk for different out-of-scope species is determined using the most relevant life history characteristics and associated risk thresholds for those species groups. 

Risk-based approaches are key in the assessment of out-of-scope species (those that cannot be targeted, including birds, marine mammals, reptiles and amphibians) as there is often less data available to determine the impact that fishing has on those populations.

Clarified requirements and guidance 

We have clarified the language used throughout the RBF and removed duplications. This will make it easier for assessors to understand and apply, leading to more accurate and consistent outcomes. 

Key clarifications include the requirements used to describe the assessment of target species and key low trophic level (LTL) species. Improvements to guidance for assessing key LTL species will enhance clarity and the consistency of results. Find out more about how we have revised our requirements for the assessment of key LTL stocks.

We have also clarified the language used for triggering requirements, which describe when the RBF should be used, particularly in relation to the proposed requirements for endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species and species that are out-of-scope of the MSC program. Find out more about our updated requirements to better protect ETP and out-of-scope species

Fisheries Standard Toolbox

We have developed a new Fisheries Standard Toolbox which will contain requirements and guidance for tools that aid the assessment of fisheries.

The toolbox will house the Risk-Based Framework in addition to new tools, such as the new MSC Benthic Impacts tool and Evidence Requirements Framework

The toolbox will be separate from the Standard and Process documents, allowing flexibility to improve these tools outside of a Fisheries Standard review process. 

Fisheries Standard 3.0 implementation

Timelines have been extended for the implementation of MSC Fisheries Standard Version 3.
Fisheries Standard 3.0 implementation

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 the updated Risk-Based Framework:

The reports listed below are available on request. Please contact [email protected]

  • 'Testing PSA Options for Out-of-Scope species' 
  • 'Review of draft MSC Productivity Susceptibility Analysis (PSA) attributes for Out-of-Scope species'


Find out more about how we develop our Standards.

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.