Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Principle 3 aims to assess the effectiveness of fishery management when entering into certification. During the review of MSC Principle 3, a number of redundancies and overlaps with Principle 1 and Principle 2 were identified. In addition, gaps were found in the guidance, which may have caused an inappropriate obstacle to the certification of small-scale and developing world fisheries. The following performance indicators (PIs) were specifically reviewed as part of the 2013 - 2014 Fishery Standard Review (FSR):

  • Scoring of fishing subsidies (PI 3.1.4)
  • Research plan requirements (PI 3.2.4)
  • External review of management system (PI 3.2.5)

Current status

Following the FSR, the MSC’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) approved the proposal to simplify the MSC assessment process and in order to increase conformity assessment body (CAB) consistency in scoring. These revisions are included in Annex SA of the Fisheries Certification Requirements version 2.0 (FCRv2.0).

Core updates are outlined below:

  • Scoring of fishing incentives PI (PI 3.1.4) has been removed, while the consideration of subsidies has been made explicit in the guidance for Principle 1 and Principle 2 management PIs. CABs must still consider whether fleets are subsidized to the point of overcapacity, and whether that overcapacity is hindering effective management in both Principle 1 and Principle 2.
  • Research plan requirements PI (PI 3.2.4) have been removed. However, reference has been made for the need to consider the existence of strategic research planning at the SG100 level for both Principle 1 and Principle 2 information PIs. The external review of management systems PI (PI 3.2.5) remains, where guidance has also been added on how scoring may recognize the traditional and informal approaches often present in small-scale and developing world fisheries.

See section on Principle 3 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: