Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

According to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Chain of Custody (CoC) certification requirements, CoC certificates can be suspended by Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) for a variety of reasons, including selling non-certified products as ‘MSC-certified'; not being able to verify the origin of products sold as certified; or for a ‘demonstrated breakdown’ of the CoC system.

Currently, there is no incentive for companies to self-declare issues of mislabeling to their CAB. MSC requirements are also not clear about how companies must handle ‘non-conforming product’. This is relevant both when companies self-report mislabeling and also when companies receive non-conforming product from a supplier. There are often strong commercial and financial interests at stake in these cases, and the MSC needs a clear and equitable procedure for CABs and clients to follow.

This program improvement item was developed to address these points. This has now reached the implementation stage. Changes were released in CR version 1.4 on 31 January 2014 and become effective from 31 March 2014.

Current status

A series of public consultations, workshops with CABs, meetings of the MSC's Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) took place between 2013 and early 2014 to discuss the proposal to clarify procedures for self-reporting of mislabelling, when products need to be re-labeled or re-packed. The proposals have been approved with the follow changes.


Core requirements

CR changes in version 1.4 include:

  • Clause 7.4: Companies which self-declare non-conforming product issues will not automatically have their certificate suspended (subject to specific requirements)
  • Annex BD: Certified companies to have an implemented process for handling non-conforming product
  • Section G7.4 (Guidance to the CR): New guidance for definition of systematic breach of the CoC

Planned work

The revised requirements and guidance were published in the MSC CR version 1.4 on 31 January 2014 and are available to download at the MSC website.

The new changes will become effective and be fully implemented by all CABs and certificate holders as follows:

1. Non-conforming products

  • For currently certified companies, this procedure must be implemented by 31 March 2015
  • For new applicants this is effective from 31 March 2014

2. Self-declaration of mislabelling or non-conforming products

For all certificate holders this is effective from 31 March 2014

3. New Guidance systematic breach of CoC

For all certificate holders this is effective from 31 March 2014