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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 01 August 2014; view the current state.

Improvement overview

The term ‘consumer-facing operators’ refers to all companies that serve MSC-certified seafood to final consumers, including retailers with fresh fish counters, caterers and restaurant chains.

The greatest issue facing this sector in relation to applying the MSC requirements is the great administrative effort needed to acheive certification.

In the past few years, the MSC has adapted CoC requirements to try to make them work better for contract caterers and restaurant chains. However, growth in this sector has remained low, despite growing interest by businesses to offer consumers sustainable seafood.

The MSC has therefore concluded that more radical changes are needed to encourage this sector to join the MSC program and serve MSC-labelled seafood. This program improvement will now be part of the 2014 MSC Chain of Custody Program Review (CPR). See below for the two new models proposed for verifying product integrity and operator compliance at the end of the supply chain.

Current status

The following two approaches are being proposed for further development for consumer-facing operators:

Option 1: Licensing and inspection model

Under this model, consumer-facing operators would sign an agreement with the MSC in which they agree to comply with a simplified set of CoC requirements, focusing on traceability and risks of mixing. This would be an outcome based model - operators would be ‘licensed’ to use the ecoabel and would not need to set up management systems (policies or procedures) showing exactly how each site will meet the MSC requirements. Instead of a certification audit, each operator would have random inspections, which could be unannounced. The inspections would check that each site meets the MSC requirements – and if certified seafood is mislabelled, or traceability isn’t in place, the operator might receive a warning and eventually could have their licence suspended.  This model would help to control costs for companies since there would likely be a flat, fixed fee which would be lower than the average certification cost currently. It would also allow operators to embed MSC requirements into the way they already operate – reducing unnecessary administration.

Option 2: Sector-specific standard

With this model, consumer-facing operators would continue to require CoC certification and would be audited by third-party certifiers to check the management systems. However, the CoC requirements would be tailored to work better for this sector. As detailed above, consumer-facing operators struggle to meet many of the Group CoC requirements and some elements of the standard because they impose additional processes that are not aligned with how these operators already work. The revised consumer-facing requirements would instead focus on training, supply control, ecolabel control and identification to tighten up on where non-compliance is most likely to occur. Requirements would also focus on verifying the head office’s actions at site level. Penalties for non-compliance would also be adjusted to work better for this sector. By preventing non-compliance from the outset and rewarding good performance, this new standard would make it easier for companies to meet the requirements.

Verification would be conducted through a head office audit and, where the operator had more than one location, by the auditor visiting a small sample of sites to check the head office has sufficient control across all sites. The benefit of this approach is that it deviates less from the current CoC model, but problematic requirements would be revised to be more appropriate for this sector.

Planned work

The early consultation for this program improvement has now closed. Find out what stakeholder said and MSC's responses to their feedback. To learn about the stakeholder engagement opportunities, please visit here.