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Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

Labour abuses within the global fishing industry and supply chain remain a widespread concern. To ensure the MSC fisheries and supply chains are operating at internationally accepted norms and free from labour abuses, the MSC seeks to provide further assurance in addition to its current policy. Whilst several social standards have started to provide a solution for on-shore supply chain verification, there are significant challenges to providing similar assurances for at-sea vessels.

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.

The first round of public consultation is now closed.

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 detailed 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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