Background

In order to ensure the continued integrity and credibility of the MSC, over the years, the assessment processes have been reviewed to ensure consistency with the relevant international laws and best available scientific information. Commitment to these values has led to the development of a robust and transparent certification system with global recognition as the leading fishery certification scheme.

These projects were part of the early stage public consultation held from  22 April - 1 June 2013 as part of an on-going Speed and Cost Review (SCR) MSC has committed to undertake in 2013-2014. This program improvement involves a review of six sections: (1) Surveillance audits; (2) Fishery re-assessment; (3) Reporting templates; (4) Combination and Review of Assessment Stages; (5) Group certification in fisheries and (6) Peer review college.

Surveillance Audits

Surveillance audits represent a high continuing cost for fisheries. Although MSC introduced a risk-based method to reduce the requirements for surveillance in 2010, this has only reduced costs for a small minority of fisheries. Very often MSC is asked for variations to allow off-site audits, which indicates there is still an appetite for further reduction in costs.

A second part of this project addresses the fact that there is currently no reporting template provided for surveillance.

To find out more about the history of development for the Surveillance Audits, please click here.

Fishery Re-assessment

The current Certification Requirements (CR) requires that the re-assessment process has the same assessment stages as the initial full assessment. However, there are situations where no significant changes occur in the fishery between the initial assessment and the re-assessment, thus requiring a full re-assessment may be unnecessarily costly and time consuming. Secondly, the MSC requires Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) to use reporting templates when completing reports associated with the pre- and full assessment stages. The re-assessment currently uses the same template as the Full Assessment. Completing the reporting templates can be time consuming, particularly where a full report has previously been provided, as in the case with re-assessments.

To find out more about the history of development for the Fishery Re-assessment, please click here.

Reporting Templates

The MSC requires CABs to use reporting templates when completing reports associated with assessment stages. There is a Pre-Assessment (PA) Template and a Full-Assessment (FA) template, which is also used during re-assessment (RA).  Completing the reporting templates can be time consuming, particularly where there are perceived repetitions between assessment sections (PA, FA) or where the perceived needs of the client could be different from the needs of the MSC (PA). However, having no template can lead to inconsistencies in reporting and difficulty in collecting information for monitoring and evaluation purposes later down the lines.

To find out more about the history of development for the Reporting Templates, please click here.

Combination & Review of Assessment Stages

The duration of a fishery assessment has been reduced from over 3 years, in the early assessments, to an average now of about 13 months. Still, a number of fisheries are experiencing assessments lasting several years. While these long assessment times allow fisheries to make improvements during assessment, long assessments also tend to be more costly for clients and stakeholders (as they require repeated engagement), and the credibility of an audit-based program with such extensive audit timescales has been questioned.

To find out more about the history of development for the Fishery Assessment Stages, please click here.

Group Certification in Fisheries

Fisheries that are geographically proximate will often have "assessment components" in common with each other. When an applicant fishery that is geographically proximate to a certified fishery applies for certification, the same assessment component is often assessed over and again with time and cost implications for clients and other stakeholders. The MSC currently allows reduced, assessment process requirements when a client fishery wishes to extend its certificate to a fishery of which the target species has been assessed under Principle 2.  There is, however, no mechanism to allow a certified fishery client to extend its certificate under other conditions  in  which “assessment components” are held in common with an applicant fishery.

To find out more about the history of development for the Group Certification in Fisheries, please click here.

Peer Review College

Stakeholders and CABs have suggested that the MSC set up a peer review college to manage and provide peer reviews. The objective of such a system for peer reviewers would be two-fold:

  1. to improve the speed and efficiency with which peer reviews are undertaken; and
  2. to improve the credibility of the program by improving the consistency of peer review comments.

To find out more about the history of development for the Peer Review College, please click here.