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General Fisheries Assessment Process Improvements

This program item looks at a number of issues and opportunities to streamline the certification and assessment process against version 2.0 of the MSC Fisheries Certification Requirements.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 31 August 2015

Harmonisation

This improvement topic provides details on the revised Harmonisation process.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 31 August 2018

Streamlining the fisheries assessment process

This program item aims to streamline the fisheries assessment process. The improvements will maintain or improve certification rigour, ease stakeholder engagement during assessment, and allow greater access for fisheries in achieving MSC certification.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 31 August 2018

ISO 19011 Training Requirements

This improvement topic aims to strengthen the ISO 19011 (guidelines for auditing management systems) training requirements for fishery assessment teams and Chain of Custody (CoC) auditors.

Category: Overarching
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 March 2018

Chain of Custody Program Review 2014

In 2014, the MSC committees to reviewing it's Chain of Custody program. The aim of this review is to improve the accessibility and consistency of the Chain of Custody standard and requirements, and to make CoC work better for companies and certifiers.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2014

Consumer Facing Operators (Food Service)

A proposal of two new models for verifying product integrity and operator compliance at the end of the supply chain.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2014

Revisions to the Chain of Custody Standard

As part of the Chain of Custody (CoC) Program Review, this program improvement is considering a range of changes to the CoC standard and certification requirements that relate to CoC certificate holders.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2014

Fishery Re-Assessment

The program improvement aims to investigate whether savings can be made on the speed and cost of re-assessment by making changes to the re-assessment process stages and reporting template.

Category: Overarching
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 October 2012

Chain of Custody Checklist

In January 2013 MSC released its Chain of Custody (CoC) checklist. The checklist is a document that certifiers can use to conduct their CoC audits and report their findings. Until 2013 MSC did not develop such a document and left it up to the certifiers to develop their own checklist. The MSC checklist is voluntary for the CABs to use.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2013

Chain of Custody Suspension Process

Feedback from stakeholders indicates that current CoC requirements for suspension of certificates are considered both too lenient in some area and sometimes too harsh. This program improvement aims to review the current CoC suspensions process and determine if the existing requirements are clear and fit for purpose.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2013

MSC Generated Chain of Custody Codes

MSC Chain of Custody (CoC) certificate holders are facing some problems caused by the current CoC code system, whereby each certifier creates a code for their clients (certificate holders). Despite the MSC specifying a structure for the CoC codes in Section A clause 7.5 of the Certification Requirements, it is seldom followed, resulting in a variety of codes being issued

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 November 2012

Multi-site Chain of Custody Certification

The current definition of site has been raised as an issue by stakeholders. Site if defined in the certification requirements as “A discrete physical location”. The definition of site is important as it is linked to the “Need of certification” (CR17.1).

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2013

Certifier Communication of Changes

This program improvement aims to give certificate holders the opportunity to request to be certified to a new version of the MSC Standards in advance of the implementation deadline.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 19 April 2013

Principle 2 Species Component Restructure

The MSC will be considering different options for an overall restructuring of the Principle 2 species components, which currently include retained, bycatch and endangered, threatened or protected species.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 April 2012

Principle 3 Simplifications

This work on Principle 3 topics will evaluate how to improve efficiencies in Principle 3 within the MSC default assessment tree and potential of removing redundancy. This work will aim to also increase the consistency of the Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) whilst scoring fisheries against Principle 3.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 02 January 2013

Harmonisation of Conditions Timelines

The MSC Certification Requirements do not explicitly state whether harmonised fisheries with conditions must be given the same timelines to complete the conditions or whether the timelines should be harmonised to existing (earliest certified) fisheries. It is unclear whether condition timelines should be considered an assessment outcome. Considering this issue, MSC has agreed to make minor changes to clarify how harmonisation policies should be interpreted.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 June 2012

Bycatch/Discards

Discards can be defined as the throwing away or slipping of dead fish and fish that may not survive after live release (FAO, 2010). In general, discards are considered a waste of resources and contradictory to responsible fisheries. Discards are often very difficult to estimate, leading to under estimation of fishing mortality, which impacts fishery management and long-term sustainability.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 14 February 2011

Unit of Certification

The Unit of Certification (UoC) of a fishery in the MSC program is what is assessed by the certification body and its expert team during a fishery assessment. The UoC is defined as the target stock(s) combined with the fishing method/gear and practice pursuing that stock. MSC is investigating options to address issues arising from the definition of UoC, specifically cumulative impacts in Principle 2 and current inefficiencies in moving species between Principle 2 and Principle 1.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 10 October 2010

Low Trophic Level Fisheries

In August 2011, MSC provided clarifications to its default assessment tree and guidance relating to fisheries targeting Low Trophic Level (LTL) fish species, like sardines and anchovies. Given that these requirements on LTL fisheries focus on limiting the ecosystem impacts of fisheries management, it was clear that the normal precaution levels built into MSC’s Risk Based Framework (RBF) for data deficient fisheries would be insufficient for assessing stock status (PI 1.1.1) in LTL fisheries.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 10 July 2009

Shark Finning

Shark finning is defined as the practice of cutting off the fins and throwing the remainder of the shark overboard. This practice is gaining recognition around the world as an unacceptable and illegal practice. The MSC Board of Trustees has resolved that fisheries engaged in shark finning should be ineligible for certification and we are working on changes to the certification requirements needed to implement this decision.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 05 January 2011

Transparency and Integrity in Fisheries Management

Transparency, accountability and integrity are essential attributes of good fisheries governance. Transparency enhances the ability of stakeholders in a fishery to participate in the fishery management decision making process on an informed basis.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 09 January 2012

Use of the MSC Chain of Custody requirements by other standards

In December, 2010, the MSC’s Board of Trustees agreed that the MSC should develop partnerships with other standard setters where appropriate to add efficiencies to supply chains. The MSC is currently working with the ASC to provide a chain of custody solution for their certification programme, and to provide and administer their ecolabel licensing function. Although this is an important collaboration, the ASC remains a separate organisation that will use a different ecolabel.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 11 January 2012

Stakeholder Consultation and Process for Obtaining Information in RBF Assessments

Successful application of the RBF is significantly dependent on qualitative data made known by stakeholders involved with the fishery. This information may not be available in a published or documented format; rather it needs to be extracted using a range of participatory techniques which should be applied by the CB, the choice of which are dependent on the characteristics and type of fishery being assessed.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 11 January 2012

Guidance for Fisheries on Shared, Straddling and Highly Migratory Stocks

Analysis of previous fisheries assessments of fisheries on shared and straddling stocks (SSS) and highly migratory species (HMS) has shown that there is variation in how assessment teams have taken account of the relative importance of management at local (national) and international levels (e.g. RFMOs). This is important because these fisheries are conducted on a multi-jurisdictional basis and CABs need to consider all the management regimes that affect the sustainable management of the stocks.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 16 January 2012

Chain of Custody Accessibility

The MSC is currently reviewing its Integrated Strategic Plan (ISP), and the draft recommendations include a strong focus on the foodservice sector, and the consideration of alternatives to increase the accessibility for key operator groups while maintaining the credibility of the standards.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 14 November 2011

Auditor Checklist for Chain of Custody

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) currently publishes requirements for how conformity assessment bodies (CABs) are to certify companies against the MSC chain of custody (CoC) standards. Accreditation Services International (ASI) accredits these CABs and monitors their checklists for compliance with the MSC requirements.It has been proposed that the MSC consider developing a 'master' audit checklist to be used by all CABs.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 09 January 2010

Principle 1 Clarifications

There is convincing evidence that environmental variability may affect fish population abundance and productivity. This program improvement aims to provide clarification and guidance on Principle 1 topics which include stock status, reference points and harvest control rules.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 13 January 2011

Cumulative Impacts on Retained Species

This program improvement will continue to work under the unit of certification workstream that relates to the cumulative impacts. Research around the extent of the cumulative impact of the MSC certified fisheries, how the standard has been interpreted in previous assessment and the proposed changes for improvement will be discussed.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 05 February 2011

Modifications to the Default Tree for Salmon Fisheries

In the 2008 release of its Fisheries Assessment Methodology and default assessment tree, MSC recognised that specific modifications would be required for certain types of enhanced fisheries and some other special fishery types. Special assessments are required for salmon fisheries due to their multi-stock population structures, and also to assess the impacts of releasing hatchery-reared juvenile fish into the wild.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 14 June 2010

Metapopulation Fisheries

A metapopulation is a group of subpopulations in which the dynamics of each are driven in part by the movement of individuals to and from other subpopulations within the group. This project will develop guidance on how Principle 1 should be assessed in fisheries based on species comprised of metapopulations, allowing for different types of underlying stock biology, which including sedentary bivalves and crustacea and also fish species such as herring that exist as many discrete stocks.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 15 November 2012

Group Certification in Fisheries

This program improvement aims to provide clarification and guidance for group fishery certification including cases of extensions of the fishery scope (Unit of Certification).

Category: Overarching
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 October 2012

Risk-based Framework Developments

The use of the Risk Based Framework in different types of fisheries, especially small-scale and developing world fisheries, has raised a number of issues around inconsistencies in the application of the methodology. This program improvement aims to review the current use of the methodology in fishery assessments, improve requirements to ensure clear interpretation.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 13 January 2011

Auditor Personnel Competencies

As part of MSC's Certification Body (CB) Learning & Development Strategy, a competency framework for different groups of CB audit personnel including auditors is being developed. The purpose of developing this framework is to ensure that minimum levels of competency are set to further ensure consistent and robust fishery assessment and chain of custody audit outcomes.

Category: Overarching
Stage: Selection
Date started: 07 January 2010

Chain of Custody Certificate Scope (Phase 1)

This project aims to review the concept of ‘scope of certification’ as it relates to the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC’s) Chain of Custody (CoC) certification requirements, and to explore options for reducing the administrative process and cost of managing scope information.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 23 February 2012

Review of Subcontractors Requirements

A subcontractor is defined as ‘An entity that is contracted to carry out work for a third party or affiliate (includes contract processors, transportation companies, distribution companies and any other storage or processing facilities)’. The MSC defines requirements for subcontractors of companies with MSC certification.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2013

Principle 1: Sustainable Fish Stocks

Principle 1 within the MSC Standards focus on the fishing activity must be at a level which is sustainable for the fish population. Any certified fishery must operate so that fishing can continue indefinitely and is not overexploiting the resource. This consultation is a combination of two main area, the clarification of Principle 1 and metapopulations.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 04 January 2013

Principle 2: Minimising Environmental Impact

This program improvement focuses on the MSC Principle 2 of the Fisheries Standard. It aims to assess the environmental impact of fisheries entering into certification and required that fishing operations should be managed to maintain the structure, productivity, function and diversity of the ecosystem on which the fishery depends.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 02 September 2013

Fishery Process Issues

This program improvement aims to provide additional guidance and clarity to three sections: Definition of unit of certification (UoC), fishery traceability and harmonisation of conditions timelines.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 02 September 2013

Risk Based Framework (RBF) Topics

This program improvement aims to address issues and meet the overall objectives of improving consistency and robustness in the application of the Risk Based Framework (RBF) methodology.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 April 2013

Traceability and Assurance in the Supply Chain (TASC/DNA)

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is currently working towards establishing protocols, responsibilities and potentially making changes to the way chain of custody certification is overseen to improve the way that the programme addresses any problem found during verification activities.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 25 July 2011

Scope of Chain of Custody Certification (Phase 2)

Following the changes implemented under CoC Scope (phase 1), phase 2 of this program improvement aims to address the causes, review the potential barriers from phase 1, its influences and opportunities to provide solution to the issues that initiated this work.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 15 January 2013

Surveillance Audits

This program improvement aims to investigate whether savings can be made on speed and cost of surveillance audits by re-adjusting the minimum surveillance requirements, including new criteria for setting the surveillance level and developing a template for reporting on surveillance with reduced reporting requirements.

Category: Overarching
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 October 2012

Combination & Review of Assessment Stages

This program improvement aims to review a series of changes to the fishery assessment stages that would attempt to simplify the MSC assessment process, as well as reduce the time it takes to undergo fisheries assessments and the related cost to client fisheries and capacity of stakeholders engaged in a lengthy process.

Category: Overarching
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 October 2012

Reporting Templates (Pre & Full Assessment)

This program improvement aims to investigate whether savings can be made on the speed and cost of assessment by making changes to the Pre-Assessment and Full Assessment Templates within the fishery certification process.

Category: Overarching
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 October 2012

Definition of Unit of Certification

Following the changes implemented in the Certification Requirements v1.3, this program improvement will investigate on the possible options to provide modifications to the requirement and guidance that would clarify how fisheries may be defined for assessment as UoCs and the implications for clients' certificate sharing.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 13 January 2011

Fisheries Standard Review (FSR)

MSC’s objective in reviewing the fisheries standard is to ensure its continued credibility as a reflection of current scientific knowledge and best practice in fisheries and environmental management, developed through processes that are transparent, participatory and fair and compliant with international best practice for standards development.

Category: Fisheries
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 10 January 2011

Speed and Cost Review (SCR)

This paper outlines why small scale fisheries are so important to the MSC’s mission and the success of our programme and presents a number of options for further consideration.

Category: Overarching
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 21 December 2011

Audit Process Review

A review of the Chain of Custody (CoC) audit process in order to make CoC audits more effective at detecting issues of mislabelling and substitution.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2014

Chain of Custody Surveillance Audits

A consideration on the changes to ensure surveillance audits are effective at checking key traceability risks, and to minimise costs for certificate holders.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2014

Under MSC-Assessment Fish Review

A thorough review of the requirements for under MSC-Assessment Fish (UMAF) requirements, to mitigate issues such as financial losses, traceability risks and negative credibility impacts for our supply chain partners.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 January 2014

Revisions to the Chain of Custody Certification Requirements

The MSC has committed to undertake a review of its Chain of Custody (CoC) program in 2014. The CoC certification requirements have been included to make the CoC program more clear, logical and accessible.

Category: Chain of custody
Stage: Implementation
Date started: 01 July 2014