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Home Program improvements database Chain of Custody Accessibility Consultations Early-stage public consultation: CoC Accessibility (March-April, 2012)

Chain of Custody Accessibility

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Early-stage public consultation: CoC Accessibility (March-April, 2012)

Start date: 11 March 2012
End date: 06 April 2012


Currently, all operators that take ownership of MSC-certified products (up until the point of consumer-ready-tamper-proof-packaging) must be certified against the MSC’s Chain of Custody (CoC) standard. This standard requires an onsite audit and assessment by an independent, accredited certifier against the CoC standard. This process helps to ensure that every operator in the supply chain complies with the seafood traceability standards and that all the products bearing the MSC ecolabel originated in an MSC certified fishery.

Feedback from stakeholders suggests that the current CoC requirements may need to be adjusted in order to increase accessibility for foodservice operators, such as restaurants, fresh fish counters, caterers, or broadline distributors.  Some foodservice operators have voiced concerns about the high costs and complex process required for CoC certification, particularly those companies that perceive themselves as low risk (for example, they only source MSC certified products, or they don’t transform MSC products during ownership).

In response to these concerns, the MSC is undertaking an internal project to identify possible alternative solutions that will improve the accessibility of Chain of Custody certification in the foodservice sector, without compromising the credibility of the standard or the MSC ecolabel.


The purpose of this consultation is to seek stakeholder input on the problem statement, project plan, and initial phase 1 findings. It is important to engage early with stakeholders to recognise, understand and incorporate stakeholder views and expectation in this policy area. The MSC will undertake at least two public consultations in this policy item:

  1. An early stage consultation to scope key issues and receive feedback on the project plan and objectives.
  2. A late consultation to seek feedback on the policy options recommended and implications.

At this first round of consultation, we are seeking stakeholder input into the overall project approach and timeline, as well as any considerations we should take into account that are specifically related to foodservice operators and the MSC’s CoC requirements.

Proposed Project plan

A paper was prepared for the MSC’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) in December, 2011 with a proposal for the next phases of the project. As a result of the TAB meeting, it was decided that MSC should continue to investigate both major and minor changes to the existing CoC Standard and Requirements that could improve accessibility for high-priority foodservice operator groups.

The proposed project approach and project plan are detailed in the Consultation Document for CoC Accessibility.

Consultation questions:

  1. From your perspective, how important is it for the MSC to increase accessibility of the Chain of Custody programme for foodservice operators such as restaurants, caterers, and fresh fish counters?
  2. Do you believe that minor changes to the current standards will be sufficient to address concerns over cost and complexity of certification for the foodservice sector?
  3. Are there other operator groups or accessibility challenges that you would expect to see included in the ‘Initial Phase 1 Findings’ section above?
  4. What benefits or risks do you anticipate if the requirements are adjusted to make it easier and less complex for foodservice operators to participate in the Chain of Custody programme?
  5. Do you have any alternative ideas on how best to address this issue?

Who can comment?

This consultation is open to any interested stakeholders

Documents out for consultation

Consultation document (pdf, 354kb)

How to comment

Stakeholders may submit their comments using the contributor form (doc, 102kb) or in other format to, with the subject heading ‘CoC Accessibility.’

Next steps

Following this consultation and based on the stakeholder input the project plan will be revised. Working groups will be scheduled to work in preparing options and recommendations. Following the agreed recommendations will be incorporated into a paper for public consultation in June- August 2012. This will submitted to the TAB for final approval and subsequent publication in December, 2011.

Further information

Please direct any enquiries to:

Chelsea Reinhardt

Product Integrity Manager

Consultation documents

The following supporting documents are available for this consultation.