Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

The Unit of Certification (UoC) of a fishery in the MSC program is what is assessed by the conformity assessment body (CAB) and its expert team during a fishery assessment. The UoC is defined as the target stock(s) combined with the fishing method/gear and practice (including vessel/s) pursuing that stock.

However, the definition of the UoC in the Certification Requirements (CR) was identified to consist with the following issues:

  • Definition: The current definitions of terms such as 'UoC', 'client', 'client group' and 'other eligible fishers' do not make it easy for clients or other stakeholders to understand the options for certificate sharing and access to the certificate.
  • Scoring elements in Principle 1: It should be possible for multiple species or stock units to be included as separate scoring elements within a single UoC, as preferred by clients based on the benefits and risks involved.
  • UoCs based on catch content: Fisheries may not decide which landings will be counted in the UoC based on the content of the catch.
  • Gear variations in UoCs: It is not clear whether more than one gear type, or some variation of a gear type, can be included within a single UoC.
  • Quota trading: No guidance is provided on the implications of quota trading when it results in increased access to a fishery from outside the certified clients.

A small clarification was made to the definition of UoC in the vocabulary in CR v1.3 in January 2013, distinguishing between the UoC and the 'Unit of Assessment'.

Current status

During the 2013 - 2014 Fishery Standard Review (FSR), the MSC’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) approved the proposals on the above workstreams. These revisions were included in the Fisheries Certification Requirements version 2.0 (FCRv2.0).

For clarity, a new term 'Unit of Assessment' (UoA) has been introduced to define the full scope of a fishery assessment. A UoA includes the target stock, fishing method and practice, and any fleets, groups of vessels, individual fishing operators and ‘other eligible fishers’ that are involved in a MSC fishery assessment. Such ‘other eligible fishers’ may not be initially included in a certified fishery, but may join it later through the process of certificate sharing, assuming they were included in the assessment of the fisheries’ impacts. The term UoC is retained in only a few places within FCRv2.0 to refer to those elements of the UoA that are currently covered by the certificate.

See further clarification on these new requirements >

Read the full list of topics changed as a result of the FSR >

Planned work

The revised requirements issued on 1 October 2014 became effective on 1 April 2015.

  • Fisheries assessment processes (including first assessments, surveillance audits, certificate extensions and re-assessments) that commence after the effective date, 1 April 2015 have to use the new process requirements, with the exception of the RBF. The  use of the v2.0 RBF (Annex PF) with v1.3 standard is allowed only if a variation is requested.
  • Existing fisheries (in assessment or certified) have to apply the new standard  requirements in addition to the RBF requirements, at their first re-assessment commencing after 1 October 2017.
  • First full assessments that commence after the effective (i.e. 1 April 2015) date shall be conducted in accordance with the new standard requirements in FCRv2.0 in addition to using the new processes, including the RBF.

Download all current scheme documents >

Any fishery may elect to use the new process and standard requirements from publication (1 October 2014) if they choose and CABs can confirm their readiness to apply the new processes and standard. For more information, please refer Implementation Timeframe or contact us at: