Shark finning: identifying further solutions

Shark finning is the practice of removing any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) and discarding the remainder of the shark at sea. This is strictly prohibited within MSC certified fisheries.

The MSC Fisheries Standard requires certification bodies to assess the likelihood that any vessel in a fishery is engaged in shark finning. This is part of the scoring for both Principle 1 (sustainable stocks) and Principle 2 (minimising environmental impact). 

Improving our standard

Our recent updating of the MSC Fisheries Certification Process v2.2 rectified issues around the inconsistent application of our requirements on shark finning. But there are still concerns that the current requirements do not reflect global best practice. 

This review will consider whether our current shark finning requirements deliver the needed confidence that shark finning is not occurring in an MSC certified fishery. We want to make sure we have the right incentives for fisheries seeking certification to actively improve their efforts to prevent shark finning.  


Progress so far

We are conducting a thorough review of the current global management practices on shark finning. We want to find out if there has been progress in the science and management of shark finning that could be used to update our Standard. 

This review includes looking at the prevalence and uptake of Fins Naturally Attached policies, which require the whole shark to be landed. Our preliminary survey of global fishery management agencies found that, out of 25 management agencies that responded, 14 (56%) had a Fins Naturally Attached policy. 


How could the standard change?

The result of the review could lead to a change in requirements and guidance of the MSC Fisheries Standard.

This means we could see a change in the way the requirements are articulated, to ensure the intent is clear. Most notably, we may need to make changes to the evidence required for Conformity Assessment Bodies to ensure compliance with our shark finning requirements.  

We will not change the intent of the Fisheries Standard, which is to ensure shark finning does not occur within MSC certified fisheries. Any changes will be in line with current global best practice both for management and identification or monitoring of shark finning, and will be informed through consultancy with stakeholders. 


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 July 2020 we held virtual workshops and stakeholders were invited to provide further input through our online form. 

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

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