Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

Following the completion of the MSC Fisheries Standard Review 2013-14, an updated Standard and Certification Requirements have been launched on 1 October 2014, and become effective on 1 April 2015.

Version 2.0 of the MSC's Fisheries Certification Requirements (FCRv2.0) reflects the most up-to-date understanding of fishery science and management practices. FCRv2.0 raises the bar for a number of important issues to ensure fisheries certified against the MSC standard by continuing to incorporate the latest research and fishery practices into its standard development.

Revised scheme are summarized in the table below:

TopicFCRv2.0 updates
Principle 1:
Fish Stock

Increased clarity of the requirements and consistency of scoring by conformity assessment bodies (CABs), including:

  • Clarification for scoring of target stocks and scoring of Harvest Control Rules (HCR)
  • Review of alternative impact mitigation measures and changes to information performance indicators
Principle 2:
Minimising Environmental Impact

New requirements have been introduced for fisheries to:

  • Regularly review alternative mitigation measures, and implement them where appropriate, so as to minimise mortalities of unwanted catch of endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species
  • Ensure MSC certified fisheries will no longer cumulatively be at risk of generating negative impacts on Principle 2 species (and habitats)
In addition, we have also incorporated definitions to cover what is meant by 'serious or irreversible harm',  'main' habitats, ' area of consideration' etc. to align with best practice for P2 habitats.
Principle 3:
Effective Managemen

To simplify the MSC assessment process and increase CAB consistency in scoring:

  • Scoring of fishing incentives (PI 3.1.4) and research plan requirements (PI 3.2.4) have been removed
  • Added guidance to the external review of management systems (PI 3.2.5)
Risk Based Framework (RBF) Two new methodologies have been added to the RBF: the Consequence Analysis (CA) and the Consequence Spatial Analysis (CSA)
Shark Finning MSC requirements now prohibit shark finning; and a fishery will be scored on the level of certainty that shark finning is not taking place
Fishery Process Issues

To provide additional guidance and clarity to three sections:

  • Definition of unit of certification (UoC)
  • Fishery traceability
  • Harmonization of conditions timelines
Read the full summary on the changes following the FSR >

In addition, the MSC undertook a Speed and Cost Review (SCR) in parallel to the Fisheries Standard Review (FSR), where reductions on the time, cost and complexity of certification have also been incorporated into the new FCRv2.0.

Current status

The updated fisheries standard was developed during 2013 - 2014. The FSR involved a year-long consultation with over 80 stakeholders spanning from fishing industry experts, scientists, NGOs and MSC's wide network of partners globally. The MSC’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) approved the release of the updated fisheries standard and FCRv2.0.

Implementation Timeframes

The revised requirements issued on 1 October 2014 came into force on 1 April 2015.

  • All assessments (first assessment, surveillance audits, certificate extensions and re-assessments) that commence after 1 April 2015 will have to use the new process requirements from FCRv2.0.
  • First full assessments that are announced after the effective date will have to use the new fisheries standard (performance requirements) from FCRv2.0 in addition to the new process.
  • Existing fisheries (in assessment or certified) will have to apply the new standard at their first re-assessment commencing after 1 October 2017.
  • Any fishery may elect to use the new process and performance requirements from publication (1 October 2014) if they wish and conformity assessment bodies (CABs) can confirm their readiness to apply.

For more information, please see FCRv2.0 implementation timeframes. Any further queries, please contact MSC at:

Planned work

MSC would like to thank everyone for their contribution and continued involvement with the policy development process. For any further queries, please contact: