The MSC Fisheries Standard

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

The Standard reflects the most up-to-date understanding of internationally accepted fisheries science and management.

We review and develop the MSC Fisheries Standard in consultation with scientists, the fishing industry and conservation groups.

How is the Standard used?

When a fishery is successfully certified to the Fisheries Standard, its certified catch can be sold with the blue MSC label.

Certification to the MSC Fisheries Standard is voluntary. It’s open to all fisheries who catch marine or freshwater organisms in the wild. This includes most types of fish and shellfish.

Fisheries are assessed by accredited independent certifiers (called Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) – also called certification bodies), not the MSC.


What is assessed?

The MSC Fisheries Standard has three core principles that every fishery must meet.

  1. Sustainable fish stocks

    Are enough fish left in the ocean? Fishing must be at a level that ensures it can continue indefinitely and the fish population can remain productive and healthy.

  2. Minimising environmental impact

    What are the impacts? Fishing activity must be managed carefully so that other species and habitats within the ecosystem remain healthy.

  3. Effective fisheries management

    Are operations well managed? MSC certified fisheries must comply with relevant laws and be able to adapt to changing environmental circumstances.

Graphic showing 3 principles of the MSC Fisheries Standard

Fisheries Certification Process

The Fisheries Certification Process (FCP) accompanies the MSC Fisheries Standard. It is the instruction manual for Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) and defines the processes they must follow when assessing a fishery against the Fisheries Standard. The FCP also defines the criteria which determine whether a fishery is eligible for certification, known as the scope requirements.

The FCP ensures that the assessment process is robust, transparent and credible, and that the Standard is applied equally to all fisheries, regardless of species, fishing method, environment or size.

The Fisheries Certification Process is regularly reviewed. An updated version of the Fisheries Certification Process was published in March 2020 and came into effect in September 2020.

The latest version is available for certification bodies on our Fisheries program documents page. You can also read a Summary of Changes below.  

MSC Fisheries Certification Process 2.2 - Summary Of Changes
Description: A summary of changes following the March 2020 release of the Fisheries Certification Process v2.2

Language: English
Date of issue: 25 March 2020
Date effective: 25 September 2020

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