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A review of the MSC Fisheries Standard Toolbox will begin in July 2024 to ensure that key procedures developed to support fisheries assessments are effective.

The Fisheries Standard Toolbox was developed alongside the MSC Fisheries Standard Version 3, which was published in October 2022. It contains new procedures, including the Evidence Requirements Framework, Benthic Impacts Tool and Section SE, and an updated version of the Risk-Based Framework.

The review includes:

  • An external evaluation of the Evidence Requirements Framework
  • The Risk-Based Framework

The review begins in July 2024 and is due to be completed by July 2026. 

Why is the Toolbox being reviewed?

Stakeholder feedback following the publication of Version 3 of our Standard and the Toolbox highlighted aspects that were unclear, overly complex and not delivering the sustainability outcomes we intended.

We will address these concerns through the Toolbox review, which aims to reduce the complexity of the fisheries assessment process and ensure performance expectations for fisheries are set at appropriate levels.

Reviewing the Evidence Requirements Framework

The Evidence Requirements Framework is a new method to evaluate the evidence used in an assessment to determine a fishery’s impacts and compliance with regulations.

It was a significant new addition to our Standard, which the MSC Board of Trustees had committed to review to ensure it is working as intended. However, we have brought the review forward following feedback from our stakeholders. 

Aims of the review

The review will be carried out by an external panel of fisheries assessment experts, who will make recommendations for any proposed changes.

The panel will consider the following areas:

  • How information is assessed through the Evidence Requirements Framework, and whether this process can be made clearer, more efficient and reduce assessment time and costs
  • Performance levels required of fisheries, including thresholds set for independent observation of catch data
  • Consistency of language and intent between the Standard and Framework

What could change?

Depending on the outcomes of the review, the existing requirements and intent of the Evidence Requirements Framework could change. This may impact the level of performance expected of fisheries to meet our Standard.

Reviewing the Risk-Based Framework

The Risk-Based Framework is used to assess the environmental impacts of fisheries with limited data.

It is vital the Framework is precautionary, however we have identified aspects where thresholds for assessing a fishery’s impact require recalibration.

The review is due to be completed by July 2026, alongside the outcomes of the Evidence Requirements Framework review. 

Aims of the review

The review of the Risk-Based Framework includes the following:

  • Ensuring alignment between the Risk-Based Framework and Evidence Requirements Framework
  • Addressing technical issues, such as recalibrating thresholds to ensure assessments are based on the intended level of precaution for species being evaluated
  • Ensuring the Risk-Based Framework can be applied efficiently

What could change?

Depending on the outcomes of the review, there may be changes to the Risk-Based Framework which impact the level of performance expected of fisheries to meet our Standard.

Any changes would be incorporated into an updated version of the Toolbox alongside changes to the Evidence Requirements Framework.

Testing the changes

Any proposed changes that result from the Toolbox review will be thoroughly tested.

This could include pilot tests carried out by CABs and assessors, and mock assessments across a wide range of fisheries that consider costs, feasibility and auditability.

We will also engage with a wide range of stakeholders throughout the process to gather input into the drafted requirements. 

Get involved

Consultations will be held on the proposed changes and we encourage our stakeholders to take part. Details will be shared as the review progresses.