Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Principle 1 (P1) covers the status and management of those ‘target stocks’ proposed for certification and the application of the MSC logo. Two program areas in ‘P1’ were included for the 2013-14 Fishery Standard Review (FSR) for improvement: P1 clarifications and Metapopulations.

The P1 clarification proposed modifications to the content and structure of the default assessment tree for P1.

The Metapopulations proposed additional guidance for the assessments of these specific types of fisheries. The guidance emphasized how the uncertainties in these situations should be considered in the harvest control rules (HCR) as well as in information and stock assessment Performance Indicators (PIs) (PIs 1.2.2, 1.2.3 and 1.2.4).

Current status

Through the FSR process, the MSC’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) approved the modifications to the P1 part of the MSC Fisheries Standard (default assessment tree) in order to increase the clarity of the requirements and the consistency of scoring by Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs). Further guidance was developed to confirm MSC's intent on specific aspects of the assessment requirements. These revisions are included in Annex SA of the Fisheries Certification Requirements version 2.0 (FCRv2.0).

Core updates are outlined below:

  • The structure has been simplified by removing the Reference Points PI (1.1.2) and moving those original requirements to other PIs. Clarification on reference points has also been provided with greater distinction between the 'outcome' reference points used to measure stock status (in PI 1.1.1), and the 'trigger' reference points that form part of the HCRs.
  • Extensive guidance is provided on scoring a fishery, including cases where 'proxy' reference points are used, and how trends in stock levels should be considered in scoring fluctuations (see section GSA2.2.2). The guidance includes clarification on the expectations for exploitation rates in a fishery, both in scoring the success of HCRs, and in cases where the stock is reduced below the levels at which it can be regarded as 'fluctuating around' an MSY-consistent level. Where the fishing mortality rate is estimated, it should normally be below FMSY in these cases, consistent with achieving a recovery to MSY-consistent levels within no longer than two generation times or 20 years. A few special exceptions to such rules are defined (see Box GSA5)
  • The HCRs define how the fishery management actions will maintain the stock at sustainable levels. FCRv2.0 clarifies that a 60 score can be achieved by the HCR being ‘generally understood’ (as in previous versions) but also, in cases where the stock is still abundant, where a HCR that has not previously been used, but where it can be shown to be ‘available’ to the management agency and reasonably expected to be used by managers if and when stocks decline to a level below BMSY.
  • Guidance and definitions have been added to the Unit of Certification (UoC) section of FCRv2.0, to assist with 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 P1, and allow for any uncertainties.

See section on Principle 1 for 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 wish and CABs can confirm their readiness to apply.

For more information, please refer Implementation Timeframe or contact us at: