Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

Between 2013-14, the MSC undertook a Speed and Cost Review (SCR) as a parallel process to the Fisheries Standard Review. The SCR focused on reducing the time, cost and complexity of the fishery assessment process, while maintaining the robustness and integrity of the process and the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement.

The intention was to develop measurable benefits to fisheries in the program through the reduction in costs and time spend on the assessment. Additional process elements were also reviewed, which include harmonization of fisheries, traceability and forced labour.

Current status

Following the SCR process, the MSC’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) approved revision of the requirements for surveillance and re-assessment audits and made allowances for expansions of an existing certificate. These changes will allow high performing fisheries, which have few conditions and have transparent access to information, to reduce the cost of surveillance and continued re-certification. It will also allow fisheries to more easily extend their certificates to new species, gears or fishers. These revisions have been included in the Fisheries Certification Requirements version 2.0 (FCRv2.0).

The following topics were updated:

Core updates are outlined below:

  • Forced labour: MSC has included a clear policy on the issue of forced labour. Companies successfully prosecuted for forced labour violations shall be ineligible for MSC certification. To ensure that a certification entity remains eligible for MSC certification with respect to forced labour violations companies, fishery client group members and their subcontracted parties should ensure compliance with national and international laws on forced labour and follow relevant guidance where available.
  • Surveillance audits: Criteria on determining whether a fishery can have a reduced surveillance level from the default surveillance level has been provided. On-site surveillance audits now allows one auditor supported remotely by another auditor. This is only valid where the fishery has conditions associated with only one Principle. In addition, there is now increased flexibility in the timing of surveillance audits (up to six months earlier or later than the anniversary date of certification).
  • Fishery re-assessment: There are now two types of re-assessment: (1) Full re-assessment (all steps and activities involved in a full assessment must be carried out); and (2) Reduced re-assessment (fisheries could qualify for if they meet the specific criteria. If by the third surveillance audit there are no outstanding conditions, all valid standard-related comments from stakeholders have been addressed and where the fishery entering re-assessment was covered under the previous certificate or has undergone a scope extension, the fishery can qualify for reduced re-assessment.
  • Reporting templates: A number of new templates are updated to reflect the changes resulting from FSR. Find out more on the full list of forms and templates
  • Assessment steps and timelines: The duration of the MSC fishery assessment process has been reduced from over three years, in earlier assessments, to an average of approximately 13 months. However, a number of fisheries still experience assessments lasting several years. Long assessments can be more costly for clients and stakeholders (as they require repeated engagement).
  • Certification extensions in fisheries: Fishery certificates may be extended to a new, spatially proximate fishery, with the specific conditions. If applicant fishery is deemed eligible for an extension of an existing certificate they will be eligible for reduced requirements. The extension assessment may be conducted as an expedited audit or during a regular surveillance audit (Full details on section 7.22).
  • Peer Review College: An independent Peer Review College has been created by the MSC to standardize the peer reviewer process and improve efficiency within the assessment process. The Peer Review College will carry out all the procedures for the peer reviewers that were previously handled by the conformity assessment bodies (CABs). This has the added value of removing any perceived conflict of interest through the CABs whilst giving peer reviewers the right to reply to CAB responses during the Public Comment Draft Report (PCDR) phase, which will give greater weight to peer review comments, as the Independent Adjudicator will be able to refer to these additional comments at the Objections Procedure stage.

See Fisheries Certification Requirements v2.0 for clarification on these new requirements >

Read the full list of topics changed as a result of the FSR and SCR >

If you would like more information about the SCR, please contact Yemi Oloruntuyi (Developing World Program Manager) at

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 standard and process requirements documented in FCRv2.0.
  • Existing fisheries (in assessment or certified) have to apply the new standard and process requirements at their first re-assessment commencing after 1 October 2017.

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: