Fish suppliers face stricter rules

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

The MSC label is the leading UK mark indicating sustainably sourced fish
The MSC label is the leading UK mark indicating sustainably sourced fish

Related tags Overfishing

Fish manufacturers are facing new stricter rules on seafood certification as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has unveiled key changes while revealing plans to further review the system.

It has unveiled key changes to its MSC certification requirements for fisheries and the supply chain. 

It is to implement stronger labour requirements, which will come into force in 2019, in recognition of a growing concern about abuses in the global seafood supply chain. 

Currently, any company that has been successfully prosecuted for forced labour violations in the past two years is not eligible to participate in the MSC programme. It is proposing to extend this to any high risk companies and ensure they pass an audit against the forced and child labour provisions.

From August 2018, the MSC will require all fishing activities on a target stock on a single trip to be certified. 

In the same month it will also release a new streamlined assessment process, which aims to lead to more robust assessment reports.

The MSC has also pledged to look into exploring any potential issues with its third-party assurance system.

It has pledged to review the assurance model and improve understanding of the measures certification bodies currently have in place to ensure impartiality and robust fishery assessments.

MSC certification requires annual audits to ensure that each fishery retains its status and if required they are given “conditions”​ to meet.

The organisation has commissioned  Accreditation Services International to analyse the completion of these conditions and make recommendations for any changes to the system.  

MSC set up an independent Peer Review College in August 2017, which has around 50 experts in marine science and fisheries management who ensure that fishery assessments undertaken by third-party certifiers are rigorous.

MSC said it would review the performance of this college, and consider extending the use of peer reviewers to resolve areas of scientific uncertainty.

MSC has been under pressure from independent conservation organisation WWF, which has been pushing for improvements to the MSC’s certification systems. 

WWF has said it must address “long-standing”​ concerns about the programme.

John Tanzer, oceans leader, WWF International, said: “We are pleased that the MSC Board has clearly recognised the need for continuing improvement, and has made some initial commitments towards that end. Whilst encouraged by the MSC’s willingness to address conservation concerns, WWF does expect to see strong, more specific and more immediate commitments.”

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