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Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

In 2017 the MSC initiated a review of its requirements for the Unit of Assessment (UoA) which defines the fishing activities assessed, and potentially certified, to the MSC Fisheries Standard. 

Current status

Following three rounds of consultation, review by the MSC’s Stakeholder Advisory Council and Technical Advisory Board, further investigation into the impacts of proposed solutions and sign off from the MSC’s Board of Trustees, the MSC has concluded that the definition of UoA will be changed by:

    • Removing the terms 'fishing method and practice' from the definition of the Unit of Assessment.
    • Adding a requirement to define the geographical area of the Unit of Assessment.

The amended definition will mean that all individual fishing practices using the same gear type (e.g. purse seine setting on both free schools and fish aggregating devices) will need to be assessed as part of the Unit of Assessment. It will also add clarity to how the Unit of Assessment is defined.

In practice, this will mean a tuna purse seine fishery with multiple fishing practices could no longer seek certification for the free school component of its catch alone.   

The implementation timeframe for the new UoA definition will be 6 months for new fisheries and 3 years for certified fisheries.

Planned work

There is now an opportunity to review the final text changes of the Fisheries Certification Process (FCP) and accompanying documents, which includes changes related to the Unit of Assessment, before their release in March 2020.

The Fisheries Certification Process outlines the process Conformity Assessment Bodies (an independent organisation that determines whether a fishery complies with the MSC Fisheries Standard, also known as CABs) must follow when assessing a  fishery against the MSC's Fisheries Standard.

For your opportunity to review the final changes to the Fisheries Certification Process and accompanying documents, follow this link >