Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

Fishery Process Issues within the MSC standard focus on the improvement of the assessment process.

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).

The following topics were updated:

Core updates are outlined below:

  • Definition of Unit of Certifications: 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.
  • Harmonisation of Conditions Timelines: New guidance has been developed to improve conformity assessment body (CAB) consistency in setting the timelines for conditions in overlapping fisheries. In justified cases, this allows that later fisheries should not always be required to achieve the timelines already set in earlier fisheries. Revisions include: (a) clarifications on the MSC's intent; (b) harmonization processes relating to cumulative impacts of overlapping with UoAs in Principle 2.
  • Fishery Traceability: CABs are required to assess and record that the management systems in place from a given fishery ensure traceability to the UoC, rather than to a  ‘certified fishery’, and will document in reports specifically how products can be traced back to the UoC. Fishery client groups will need to maintain records that allow certified products to be traced back to the UoC if a traceback was requested. The Public Comment Draft Report (PCDR) will include a specific statement on where a subsequent Chain of Custody assessment may be needed. Traceability systems will also be reviewed during surveillance audits.

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: