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Many stakeholders contribute to a fishery assessment. These contributions are valuable and ensure a thorough 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 provide an essential source of information that will be needed for the certification body 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
  • all relevant information is considered in the assessment

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.

The certification body assessing the fishery is listed on Track a Fishery. You can contact them to let them know you are interested in commenting on a fishery assessment. The certification body will then keep you informed once they know you are a stakeholder. 

When to comment

A fishery assessment happens in a series of six stages. Stakeholders can provide input at four of these stages.

You need to get involved as a stakeholder in the early stages of a fishery assessment. This includes providing input on the Announcement Comment Draft Report or meeting with the assessment team during the site visit.

If you do not participate during these early stages, you cannot comment during the later stages of the assessment or submit an objection.

The certification body does not have to review or consider your comments at the later stages of an assessment if you did not participate at the beginning of the assessment. 

How to use the stakeholder input template

The stakeholder input template should be used to comment on an assessment.

In 2020, the stakeholder input template was amended to make it easier for you to see how assessors have responded to comments during an assessment. This was part of a review of the MSC Fisheries Certification Process. 

If the fishery assessment began after 25 September 2020, you must use a single template throughout the assessment. Any comments provided outside of this template may not be accepted. 

The template should be used to provide written comments to the certification body at the following stages:

The Announcement Comment Draft Report
Public Comment Draft Report

Once completed, the template should be emailed to the certification body. 

The certification body must review and respond to your comments, stating if they have made any changes to scores or the scoring rationale and the reason for their decision. 

The certification body will upload the template to Track a Fishery when the Public Comment Draft Report is published. You can download the template to respond to their comments and to comment on the Public Comment Draft Report.

The certification body will respond to your comments and the template will be included in the Final Draft Report as an Appendix. 
MSC Template for Stakeholder Input into Fishery Assessments v5.0
Description: This template is for stakeholders to provide written comments during an MSC fishery assessment.
Language: English
Version: 5.00
Date of issue: 26 October 2022
Date effective: 26 October 2022
Download download file XLSX - 1 MB

The fishery assessment stages

1. Assessment preparation

A fishery assessment begins when a fishery contracts a certification body. The certification body 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

2. 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.

Following a desk-based review of the fishery, the certification body publishes the Announcement Comment Draft Report on the MSC Track a Fishery website. This report includes draft scoring ranges against the MSC Fisheries Standard with rationale and supporting information. For an overview of the Performance Indicators of the Standard see document below. 

The report also identifies areas where further information is required. Stakeholders with knowledge of these areas are encouraged to participate in the review and provide the assessment team with relevant information ahead of the site visit. This helps to ensure stakeholders, certification bodies and fishery clients are well informed and prepared for the site visit

The score ranges provided in the report are not final and may be changed following the site visit based on additional information provided by the fishery, stakeholders and peer reviewers. 

Find out more about how fisheries are scored against the Performance Indicators of the Standard


At this stage you can

Provide information about the fishery to the assessment team and comment on the Announcement Comment Draft Report using the stakeholder input template.

Include any evidence, references or information to support your comments and be of use to 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 the first time a fishery has been assessed, you have 60 days to provide your comments. If it is a re-assessment of the fishery, you have 30 days to comment from the date the Announcement Comment Draft Report was published.

Email the completed stakeholder input template 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.

Assessment announcement and stakeholder comments icon

3. 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 update the fishery’s score against the MSC Fisheries Standard in the Announcement Comment Draft Report.

At this stage you can

This is your chance to discuss the fishery with the assessment team. You can raise any concerns you may have and provide information that is relevant to the assessment. If you cannot attend the site visit in person, the assessment team can arrange for you to be involved remotely, via phone or Skype (or similar).

Remember, if you haven't provided input on the Announcement Comment Draft Report or taken part in the site visit, you cannot comment at a later stage or object to the results of the assessment. 

Site visit icon

4. Client and peer review

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

  • the fishery’s performance against each performance indicator in the MSC Fisheries Standard
  • the fishery’s average score across each Principle 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.

Stakeholders do not input at this stage.

Client and peer review

5. Public review of draft report

The assessment team will respond to stakeholder, client and peer-reviewer comments in a report called the Public Comment Draft Report. This report includes a draft determination of whether the fishery is recommended for certification. The certification body will contact you for your comments. 

At this stage you can

Comment on the Public Comment Draft Report. Include any evidence, references or information to support your comments and that may be of use to the assessment team.

To do this, download your stakeholder input template from the fishery's assessment pages on Track a Fishery. This will include the certification body's response to comments you have already made, which you can follow up on.

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 comments.

Please remember, if you were not involved in the earlier stages of the assessment any comments submitted at this stage will not be reviewed or considered by the certification body.

Public review of draft report


6. 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 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. 

Please remember, you can only submit a Notice of Objection if you provided comments throughout the assessment. 

Further information on the objection process can be found below.

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). 



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 means you have commented during the early stages of the assessment, either by submitting comments on the Announcement Comment Draft Report or attending 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.

When you submit a Notice of Objection the independent adjudicator will review if the certification body has made an error of procedure, scoring, or condition setting and if this error influenced the determination of the fishery assessment,or undermines the fairness of the assessment.  

An accepted objection does not mean that the whole assessment is redone.  

You can object if you think one of the following errors has occurred during the assessment process:

-     The certification body has omitted or incorrectly followed assessment procedures and that failure has significantly affected the fairness of the assessment and so the result of the determination should be changed.

-    The CAB’s review of the Client Action Plan is not justified because it cannot reasonably be fulfilled by the fishery client within the allocated time frame.

-    The certification body’s score for one of the performance indicators cannot be justified based on the evidence available. The score should be altered.

-     The certification body has not considered key information (available at the time of the site visit) when determining the assessment outcome.  

The independent adjudicator will make a decision based on the arguments and evidence set out by you, the certification body and other stakeholders during the objection process.

The certification body publishes the final report and determination. A 15-working day period for objections begins. Stakeholder(s) can submit a Notice(s) of Objection.


The MSC publishes a statement on Track a Fishery that the Notice(s) of Objection has been submitted without the detail of the submission.


An independent adjudicator is assigned.


The independent adjudicator accepts or dismisses the Notice(s) of Objection based on whether the Notice(s) of Objections has a reasonable prospect of success.


The Notice(s) of Objection and acceptance is posted on the MSC Track a Fishery website.


The independent adjudicator arranges a call with parties to consider if agreement can be reached.


There is a 15-working day notice period for written submissions. Submissions will also be posted on the MSC Track a Fishery site. 


The certification body has 20 working days to consider the Notice(s) of Objection and written responses. The certification body submits a response formulating this consideration and whether they suggest changes to the Final Draft Report.


The independent adjudicator will consult with the objector, the fishery and the certification body to determine if the certification body has adequately addressed the issues raised.


If a solution is not reached an oral hearing is held.


After the oral hearing, the independent adjudicator will dismiss the objection

ask the certification body to change the assessment scoring.


If the certification body is asked for changes, the adjudicator can accept the changes and the fishery will be certified


the adjudicator upholds the objection. If the objection is upheld, the fishery will not be certified.



If an objection reaches the adjudication phase (a hearing) the objector pays an ‘objection fee’ to cover the costs of the adjudication process. This includes the fees of the Independent Adjudicator. The objection fee is capped at £5000.

If an objection is resolved before the adjudication phase the objector does not need to pay the fee.

The fee does not cover the costs incurred by the fishery or the certifier. However, MSC requirements state this can be waived entirely if an objector can demonstrate appropriate financial hardship. 

The costs are fully explained in the Notice of Objection below.

MSC Notice of Objection Template v3.2.1
Description: This template is for stakeholders to object to the Final Draft Report and determination of a certifier. The v3.2.1 template is for a fishery assessment that is being conducted under the Fisheries Certification Requirements v2.2, v2.3 and v3.0
Language: English
Date of issue: 12 February 2024
Date effective: 12 February 2024
Download download file DOCX - 1 MB


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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