Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Principle 2 aims to assess the environmental impact of fisheries entering into certification. Three main areas of the Principle 2 (P2) were addressed as part of the 2013 - 2014 Fishery Standard Review (FSR).

Two of the projects were on the P2 species components (retained, bycatch and endangered, threatened and protected - ETP). The third improvement area was on the P2 Habitat Performance Indicators (PIs).

The proposals address concerns from stakeholders regarding P2 improvements to reflect best practice.

Current status

Following the FSR, the MSC’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) approved the added new requirements for fisheries to regularly review alternative mitigation measures to minimise mortalities of unwanted catch or of ETP species. All fisheries certified by the MSC will no longer cumulatively be at risk of generating negative impacts on P2 species (and habitat). These revisions were included in Annex SA of the Fisheries Certification Requirements version 2.0 (FCRv2.0).

Core updates are outlined below:

  • Review of alternative measures to minimise unwanted catch and  changes to information PIs (applicable to both P1 and P2). The fishery needs to implement the alternative measure reviewed if it is more effective at minimising mortality of unwanted or ETP species and is comparable to existing measures in terms of effect on target species catch, and vessel and crew safety, is not likely to negatively impact other species or habitats, and is not cost prohibitive to implement. MSC considers that a strategy to manage habitats should contain consideration of ways to reduce impacts of gear on habitats at the Scoring Guidepost (SG) 100 scoring level. See P1 harvest strategy (PI 1.2.1) and P2 species management PIs (PIs 2.1.2, 2.2.2 and 2.3.2).
  • The language used in P2 Species Information PIs (PIs 2.1.3, 2.2.3 and 2.3.3) was clarified to improve consistency in how these requirements are assessed and reported.
  • Assessment team is also now required to report the catch and fishery-related mortality of all main species taken, including a description of the information sources used.
  • New requirement is introduced for cumulative impact assessment. The cumulative impacts of MSC fisheries will be assessed as an outcome requirement for all species groups, but impacts of two or more fisheries will be assessed at different levels depending on which PI is evaluated, i.e. whether the species is primary, secondary or ETP. All of the requirements for cumulative impacts for species are applicable to their respective Outcome PIs. For habitats, in contrast, cumulative impacts are evaluated in the management PI (PI 2.4.2). The requirements here aim to ensure that vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) are managed cumulatively to ensure serious and irreversible harm does not occur. The MSC expects these MSC UoAs to take appropriate coordinated actions within measures / strategies to avoid impacting VMEs.
  • Definitions have been incorporated to cover what is meant by ‘serious or irreversible harm’ and ‘main’ habitats, ‘area of consideration’, cumulative habitat impacts, as well as the development of Consequence Spatial Analysis (CSA).

See section on Principle 2 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: