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Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation
This page describes the state of the program improvement in the past.
The improvement left this stage on 19 February 2015; view the current state.

Improvement overview

The MSC released its revised Chain of Custody (CoC) scheme documents on 20 February 2015.

The revised CoC Standard and Certification Requirements give greater access to a diverse range of companies and improves efficiency and rigour of the CoC program.

The areas of improvement are summarised in the table below:

Topic2015 Updates
New version of the CoC standard

    The MSC CoC Standard has been restructured so that all company requirements are in one consolidated documents, with new guidance provided:

    • The MSC revised CoC Standard now consists of one main (Default) version along with Group and Consumer-Facing Organisation (CFO) versions
    • Clearer requirements for identification and traceability of certified products
    • More specific requirements for companies to confirm the certified status of products upon receipt, and to ensure they only purchase from certified suppliers.
    Under MSC-Assessment Fish (UMAF) review

      New rules for 'under-assessment' products:

      • Only fishing operations, farms, or companies that are a named part of a fishery / farm under assessment are now allowed to buy product from this fishery / farm under assessment and keep it in storage for later sale as certified
      • Under-assessment product cannot be sold further down the supply chain until the fishery / farm is certified.
      New standard for consumer facing operators (food service)
        A new optional version of the CoC Standard developed specifically for Consumer-Facing Organisation (CFO). This includes contract caterers, restaurants / restaurant chains, fishmongers, and retailer fish counters.
        New version of the CoC certification requirements

          The MSC CoC Certification Requirements has been streamlined and restructured for better accessibility and clarity.

          • Minor changes have been introduced relating to control of subcontractors and auditing requirements for high-risk storage subcontractors and non-certified contract processors
          • The surveillance audit process has been changed so that all companies will now have annual surveillance audits, except for certain companies that qualify for 18 months reduced audits
          • Each certifier will now need to carry out unannounced audits for at least 1% of their clients. Unannounced audits can replace a scheduled surveillance audit, which means there will be no extra cost to companies.

          Current status

          The updated Chain of Custody Standard was developed during the 2014 stakeholder-led Chain of Custody Program Review. The review received feedback from over 200 global supply chain representatives and expert stakeholders. The MSC’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) approved the release of the updated CoC Standard Version 4.0.

          Implementation Timeframes

          MSC CoC Standards

          From 1 September 2015, all companies will be audited against the new version of the CoC Standard at their next audit. However, if you are a valid MSC CoC certificate holder, and your next audit is before September 2015, please talk to your certifier to confirm which Standard version you will be audited against.

          Requirements for under-assessment product in Section 5.6 of the Standard will become effective for all CoC certified organisations and applicants as of 1 September 2015. After 1 September 2015 companies will have to comply with these new requirements to buy under-assessment product (UMAF).  Any company that has under-assessment product in stock as of 1st September 2015 will be permitted to keep this inventory and can sell eligible under-assessment products as MSC or ASC-certified only when the fishery/ farm is certified. Find out more about >

          MSC Certification Requirements

          The effective date for version 2.0 of the CoC CR is 1 September 2015. All CoC audits carried out on or after this date must use this version of the requirements.

          Detailed support about transitioning to the new version of the Standard can be found on the MSC website. Visit our MSC Transition Support Pages >


          For further queries, please contact MSC at:

          Planned work

          The MSC would like to thank everyone for their contribution and continued involvement with the policy development process.

          The following opportunities are available to learn more about the updated Chain of Custody program:

          11 March
          08:30 UK GMT; or
          16:00 UK GMT
          Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) briefing webinar event: Changes to the MSC CoC Program

          Online - CAB only
          To register to participate, please send an email to:

          27 March
          08:30 UK GMT; or
          16:00 UK GMT
          Stakeholder webinar event: Changes to the MSC CoC Program To register to participate, please send an email to: