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Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation
This page describes the state of the program improvement in the past.
The improvement left this stage on 09 April 2014; view the current state.

Improvement overview

Shark finning refers to the practice of removing any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) while at sea and discarding the remainder of the shark at sea (Memorandum Of Understanding on the conservation of migratory shark, MOU, 2010).

Shark finning is gaining recognition around the world as an unacceptable and illegal practice. It is recognized as illegal by more than 20 countries and most of the Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) have bans on shark finning. Further there are several UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolutions that call for a ban of shark finning.

In line with our usual process of reviewing our standards and requirements in relation to current scientific understanding and global best practice in fisheries management, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has been reviewing the Certification Requirements with respect to shark finning.

The objective of this project is to ensure the MSC requirements are consistent with international best practice management. The expected outcome of this work is that assessments of fisheries with regard to shark finning reflect best practices, are in line with the intent of the fisheries Standard, and satisfy our strategic objectives of globally relevant and consistent certification requirements.

Current status

In December 2011, the MSC Board of Trustees resolved that fisheries engaged in shark finning would not be eligible for certification to the MSC standard for sustainable fisheries.

After two public consultation stages, targeted dialogues with stakeholders, Technical Advisory Board (TAB) Working Group 4 (WG) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) executive considerations, changes to the Guidance to the Certification Requirements (GCR) and Certification Requirements (CR) have been drafted to ensure fisheries undertaking shark finning practices are not eligible for MSC certification.

Core Requirements

  • A new Scoring Issue (SI) in 1.2.1 or 2.1.2 depending if sharks are targeted (P1) or retained (P2) was created.
  • The new SI is as follows:
      • SG 60: It is likely that shark finning is not taking place.
      • SG 80: It is highly likely that shark finning is not taking place.
      • SG 100: There is a high degree of certainty that shark finning is not taking place.
  • The intent of the scoring issue is to provide a mechanism for scoring a fishery on the level of certainty that a Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) has that shark finning is not taking place.  The level of certainty is assessed through:
      • Whether fins are landed separately from the body,
      • If the fisheries are have regulations prohibiting shark finning,
      • The level of monitoring in place.
  • Regardless of a fishery’s performance against the shark finning SI, the CAB should not certify or maintain the certification of a fishery when there is objective evidence that indicates shark finning is taking place. Objective evidence could be any documented statement or fact based on observations, measurements or tests which can be verified.
  • Fisheries that have no interaction with sharks (targeting, retaining or bycatch) will not score the requirements that relate to shark finning.

Planned work

The revised requirements and guidance were published in the MSC Certification Requirements V1.3 and Guidance to MSC Certification Requirements V1.3 on 14 January, 2013 and are available to download at\documents

The amendments listed under Shark finning will apply as follows:

  • New applicants from 14/03/2013
  • Existing applicants and certificate holders from 14/03/2014.