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Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview


In recognition of widespread concern about labour abuses in the global seafood supply chain, the MSC is working to extend our existing provisions on forced labour and provide greater assurance that forced labour violations are not taking place in fisheries and supply chain companies that hold MSC certificates.

Current status

Following the MSC Board approval in June 2016, the MSC intends to work with, and learn from current social standards and initiatives, as well as our fishery and supply chain contacts, to understand their needs and expectations.

The MSC aims to develop a risk based approach to requiring greater audit scrutiny where there is an identified need

There will be one more round of public consultation in February/March 2018 before a final solution is selected.

Given the availability of solutions to address labour issues in seafood supply chains, the MSC will consult on 3 possible solutions:

Option 1: All certificate holders are required to complete a public self-disclosure.
Option 2: A risk-based approach to require some certificate holders to undertake a self-assessment with a recognised 3rd party. No on-site audit required.
Option 3: A risk-based approach to require some certificate holders to participate in a social reporting initiative that includes an on-site audit but not necessarily pass/fail certification.

Planned work

To ensure the policy development process is inclusive and credible, we invite stakeholders to register an interest in the consultation by emailing

 Take a look at our planned work in this project to see how you can get involved.

Phased introduction following stakeholder consultations

The MSC anticipates introducing any agreed new risk based requirements in phases. The initial phase is expected to require a declaration by MSC certified fisheries that they are free from unacceptable labour practices and are able to supply evidence to support this claim. The MSC Board has asked for this requirement to be implemented by the end of 2018, following detailed consultation.

The MSC will also consult on a set of auditable social requirements or declaration that will be implemented in the Chain of Custody standard in 2018. This may include recognition of solutions offered by other standard setting organisations.

The next phase will be to consult on a set of auditable social requirements for labour practices in fisheries, including options to recognise solutions offered by other standard setting organisations, which will be implemented in 2020 when planned updates to the MSC Fisheries Standard are released.

A terms of reference document for this work will be made public in August 2016, detailing the objectives, development processes and stakeholder involvement opportunities.

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