MSC seeks input in maintaining world leading standards

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By Milthon Lujan

UK.- The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) regularly consults on all its processes and standards and today releases its latest consultation. Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input during the 30 days of this consultation on proposed improvements and developments to its chain of custody standard and fishery certification requirements.


Anyone with an interest in ensuring that the MSC’s requirements continue to reflect international best practice in fisheries certification and seafood traceability will have the opportunity to have their views heard.

Dr David Agnew, Science and Standards Director for the MSC said: “Transparency, third-party scrutiny and stakeholder consultation are central to the MSC’s values and commitment to continually improve and maintain world-leading standards. The MSC works tirelessly to understand the complex set of often differing views among our stakeholders and ensure they are reflected in our standards and procedures. These consultations offer the opportunity for everyone to inform how the MSC program evolves and continues to reflect international best practice. We welcome input from all stakeholders.”

Listening to concerns on Units of Assessment

Included in the consultations announced today is the opportunity to comment on the Unit of Assessment used to define MSC certified fisheries. In particular, stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback on a range of options that the MSC has developed in response to stakeholder concerns over the allowance for fishing vessels to catch both certified and uncertified products in a single fishing trip.


These options were developed following a workshop involving more than 30 organisations, coordinated by the MSC in June this year, and discussion with the MSC’s Stakeholder Council, Technical Advisory Board and Board of Trustees, made up of independent experts from across the seafood and conservation community, including fisheries, NGOs, scientists, retailers and brands.

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Full details of this consultation are available on, participation is via on online feedback survey.

Improvements to at-sea traceability

The MSC already sets robust requirements for Chain of Custody, ensuring that certified and non-certified seafood is segregated and clearly labelled along the entire supply chain. This assurance is essential to ensuring confidence amongst seafood buyers and consumers that their fish comes from a certified sustainable source.


In order to strengthen this assurance, the MSC is consulting on its requirements for traceability on board fishing vessels. The MSC welcomes stakeholder input on the proposed requirements.

Other topics for consideration

Also included in the consultation released on 1 September are:

– Harmonisation requirements, which set out how independent assessors should consider scores of overlapping certified fisheries


– Fishery suspension processes, which details steps taken by assessment bodies to suspend a fishery’s MSC certificate
Streamlining the MSC fisheries assessment process, which seeks to deliver efficiencies and improvements in opportunities for stakeholder engagement and reduce complexity in the assessment process

– Fisheries process improvements, which covers fisheries certification requirements including objections, scope extensions and variation requests

– Auditor personnel competencies, which seeks to improve the required qualifications and experience of assessment team members

– ISO 19011 training requirements, which considers training requirements for auditors.


– Chain of Custody Program Review, which includes improvements to the Chain of Custody Standards

– A new standard to assure traceability for ingredients associated with the ASC Feed Standard

The consultations will run from 1st to 30th September and can be accessed via

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Input to these consultations will inform revisions to the MSC Fishery Certification Requirements and Chain of Custody Standard scheduled for release in late 2018.

The MSC’s standard setting and development procedures conform with the ISEAL Standard Setting Code and ecolabelling guidelines set by the United National Food & Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO). In March this year, the MSC also became the first global sustainable seafood certification programme to achieve recognition from the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), confirming it meets international requirements for credibility and rigour.

All consultation responses will be published anonymously in full along with the MSC’s responses. This goes beyond best practice for consultation, as exemplified by the aspirational criteria in the ISEAL standard setting code.

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