Engage with a fishery assessment

Many people contribute to a fishery assessment, your contribution is valuable and will lead to a better assessment of that fishery.

  • Are you affected or will you be affected by a certification decision on a particular fishery? 
  • Do you have an interest in the fishery being considered for certification and/or in other resources potentially affected by the fishery? 
  • Do you have information relevant to the assessment of the fishery for MSC certification?
  • Do you want to comment on the performance of the certifier?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you should consider yourself a stakeholder in that fishery. You should have your say and get involved in the MSC assessment process.

Why get involved?

As a stakeholder, you are an essential source of information that will be needed to conduct a meaningful assessment. Whether you are a scientist, a fishery manager, a seafood processor, a government representative, a community member, a conservationist or other stakeholder with an interest in an assessment outcome, your information contributes to a thorough assessment. 

Your input helps ensure:
  • the issues important to you or your organisation are taken into consideration in the assessment; 
  • the assessment of the fishery is well-informed and comprehensive; 
  • the outcome of the assessment is consistent with the MSC Fisheries Standard.

How to comment

If you are interested in commenting on a fisheries assessment, make sure you sign up to the MSC fishery program update email to keep track of the assessment. You can also read about the fishery on the MSC Track a Fishery website.

A fishery assessment happens in a series of stages. The certification body doing the assessment will keep you informed once they know you are a stakeholder. You need to comment as a stakeholder at the beginning of a fishery assessment to be able to comment again at the very end of the assessment.


The assessment process

Assessment preparation

An assessment begins when a fishery contracts a certification body. The certification body then gathers information about the assessment and assigns an assessment team.  

The assessment team analyses information about the fishery, such as technical papers, reports and data. They use this information to decide on draft scoring of the fishery against the MSC Fisheries Standard.

Assessment preparation icon

Assessment announcement and stakeholder comments

The assessment is announced in the MSC fisheries updates email. The announcement includes the assessment team members and the details of the site visit.

The certification body publishes the Announcement Comment Draft Report on the MSC Track a Fishery website. This report includes draft scoring against the MSC Fisheries Standard with rationale and supporting information.

At this stage you can:

Comment on the Announcement Comment Draft Report. Include any references or information that may be useful for the assessment team.  

It’s most helpful to the assessment team if you focus your feedback on the draft scoring and any information gaps in the assessment.

If this is a first assessment, you have 60 days to provide comment. In the case of a re-assessment, you have 30 days to comment. Use the form below to provide comments on a fishery assessment and email the completed form to the assessment team. The team’s contact details will be on the MSC Track a Fishery website in the contact tab of your fishery of interest.

You can also prepare for the site visit where you can discuss the fishery with the assessment team. 

Assessment announcement and stakeholder comments icon

Site visit

At the site visit, the assessment team interviews stakeholders and fishery managers and will consider all information and issues raised. The assessment team uses this information to score the fishery’s performance against the MSC Fisheries Standard.

At this stage you can:

Attend the site visit and contribute. If you cannot make the site visit in person, the assessment team can arrange for you to be involved remotely, via phone or Skype (or similar).

Site visit icon

Client and peer review

The certification body produces a Client and Peer Review Draft Report summarising:

  • the fishery’s performance against the MSC Fisheries Standard
  • the fishery’s average score across each performance indicator of the Standard
  • the proposed certification outcome
  • the details of any conditions to improve the fishery’s performance.

The certification body arranges independent experts known as peer reviewers (typically fisheries scientists) to review the draft report. Third-party scientists approve the selection of peer reviewers to ensure they give an independent review of the assessment.

Client and peer review

Public review of draft report

The assessment team will respond to comments in a published report called the Public Comment Draft Report. The report includes a draft determination of whether the fishery is recommended for certification.

At this stage you can:

Give more feedback on the draft report. The certification body will contact you for feedback if you are a registered stakeholder.

The Public Comment Draft Report is published on the MSC Track a Fishery website and posted in the Fisheries program updates email. You have 30 days to provide your feedback, using the stakeholder feedback form below.

Public review of draft report


Final draft report

Once the assessment team has considered everyone’s input during the assessment, they publish a Final Draft Report. This report includes the assessment team’s final determination as to whether or not the fishery should be certified.  

If you wish to object to the determination, you have 15 working days to submit a Notice of Objection after the Final Draft Report is published. 

Final draft report



If the assessment determination was certification and no objections have been raised, the fishery is successfully certified. Certification lasts for a maximum of five years subject to surveillance audits. 

The certification body issues and publishes the Public Certification Report on the MSC Track a Fishery website, outlining the assessment process and any improvements that the fishery needs to make (known as conditions). 


MSC Template for Stakeholder Input into Fishery Assessments v3.0
Description: A form for stakeholders when providing written comments during an MSC fishery assessment.

Language: English
Version: 3.00
Date of Issue: 17 December 2018
Date effective: 28 February 2019

Objections and how they work

After the Final Draft Report is published, it is possible for you to submit a Notice of Objection. A Notice of Objection can only be submitted by:

  • Stakeholders previously involved with the specific fishery assessment. This could mean that you have sent a written submission during the assessment to the certification body or attended a meeting at the site visit (in-person or remotely).
  • Stakeholders that can prove that the CAB didn’t follow procedures and as a result prevented or impaired your participation during the assessment process.
  • The fishery client(s).

More than one stakeholder can submit a Notice of Objection for the same fishery. Once a Notice of Objection is submitted, an independent adjudicator is assigned to the objection.

MSC Notice of Objection Form v2.0
Description: This template is for stakeholders to object to the Final Draft Report and determination of a certifier. The v2.0 template is for a fishery assessment that is being conducted under the Fisheries Certification Requirements v2.0.

Language: English
Version: 2.00
Date of Issue: 08 October 2014


All third party accredited certification bodies are required to have their own complaints procedure on their website. If you need to raise a complaint against any certification bodies or auditors, please use their own complaints procedure as a first step. After this, it’s possible to raise a complaint with MSC’s independent assurance body, Assurance Services International (ASI).

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