Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

Principle 1 requires that target stocks are likely to be above the 'point at which recruitment could be impaired' (PRI) and also fluctuating around a target level that is approximately consistent with the concept of taking a Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY).

Stakeholder feedback identified that the MSC Certification Requirements (CR) lacks clarity on the definition of unit stock, especially when dealing with sedentary and demersal species (e.g., shrimp, lobster, scallops) subject to metapopulation structure. A biological unit stock (as stated in the Unit of Certification definition) may consist in several sub-populations interconnected by larval drift in a way that targeting one of these sub-components will inevitable affect others.

In order to provide this clarification MSC wishes to establish a typology of different metapopulation arrangements, and consider the implications of metapopulation structure in defining and assessing the Unit of Certification (UoC). This program improvement was included in 2013-14 Fishery Standard Review (FSR).

Current status

Following the FSR, the MSC’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) approved the addition of guidance and definitions to the UoC section of the Fisheries Certification Requirements (FCR) version 2.0, to help assessments that are based on 'metapopulations'.

In this situation, local populations inhabit discrete habitat patches but inter-patch dispersal and connections lead to varying degrees of connectivity and dependence between the different units. Assessment teams should consider the connectivity between such components of a metapopulation and the underlying source-sink dynamics and thereby more clearly define the actual unit stock that is assessed against Principle 1, and allow for any uncertainties.

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 wish and CABs can confirm their readiness to apply. For more information, please refer Implementation Timeframe or contact us at: