MSC fisheries certification implies that a fishery is assessed against three core principles represented by 28 performance indicators:
Principle 1: Sustainable target fish stocks
A fishery must be conducted in a mnner that does does not lead to over-fishing or depletion of the exploited populations and, for those populations that are depleted, the fishery must be conducted in a manner that demonstrably leads to their recovery.
Principle 2: Environmental impact of fishing
Fishing operations should allow for the maintenance of the structure, productivity, function and diversity of the ecosystem (including habitat and associated dependent and ecologically related species) on which the fishery depends.
Principle 3: Effective management
The fishery is subject to an effective management system that respects local, national and international laws and standards and incorporates institutional and operational frameworks that require use of the resourse to be responsible and sustainable.
MSC fisheries certification procedure
Stage 1. Decision-making
The fishing company (further on referred to as the Client) decides to certify the fishery in conformity with the MSC requirements and therefore chooses an accredited certification body to conduct certification (further on referred to as the Contractor). When the decision is made, the Client sends a certification application to the Contractor using the template approved by the Contractor. Based on the application information about the Client, the Contractor determines the prospects of the successful evaluation process.
Stage 2. Signing a contract
After the review of the application, the Contractor makes a commercial offer to the Client regarding certification costs and procedure. Once the offer is accepted and all conditions are agreed upon, the Client and the Contractor sign a certification contract. The contract is not bounded by the certification period.
Stage 3. Pre-assessment
Fishery pre-assessment is not mandatory but can be carried out upon an initiative of both the Client and the Contractor. Pre-assessment allows the Contractor to obtain general overview of the Client’s management structure, while the Client may get familiar with the MSC and Contractor’s requirements. If the pre-assessment is conducted, it is stipulated by the additional agreement to the certification contract.
The main aim of the pre-assessment is to define areas that may require additional work or close attention of the Client before the full assessment; the scope of evaluation is also clarified.
A report will be provided to the Client upon the audit findings including conclusions about the Client’s fishery conformity with effective MSC requirements.
Stage 4. Announcement of assessment, team selection, confirmation of the assessment tree
Prior to proceeding to the full assessment, the Client fills and submits the Client Document Checklist to the Contractor as well as other documents that can help the Contractor assess the fishery. Upon receipt of the abovementioned Checklist, the Contractor informs MSC of the Client’s readiness to undertake assessment by providing an indicative timetable, information about the team members and the assessment tree to be used, as well as invitation for stakeholder participation in the assessment process.
Stage 5. Full assessment
Once all non-conformities identified during the pre-assessment are corrected, actions required conducted, and also upon receipt of the confirmation from the Client about its readiness for the full assessment, the Contractor schedules the full assessment of the Client. If the pre-assessment has not been carried out, the Contractor carries out the full assessment only after signing the contract.
30 (thirty) days before the full assessment the Contractor submits information about the date and location of the site visit, including the invitation for stakeholder participation, to MSC.
After reviewing information collected, the Contractor scores the Client’s fishery and sets conditions, where required (for correction of which the Client prepares the action plan), and also determines the point (s) at which fish and fish products may enter further chains of custody. Based on the audit findings, the Contractor provides a report to the Client, which the Client has the right to comment within 30 (thirty) days.
Stage 6. Peer and stakeholder review
The Contractor submits the draft report agreed by the Client to review by a group of peer reviewers and further by stakeholders. Based on the results of review of received comments, the Contractor prepares the final report to be published on the MSC website; the stakeholders may lodge an objection to this report (following the MSC objections procedure) within 15 (fifteen) working days.
Stage 7. Certificate issue and registration
If the final determination made by the Contractor is to certify the fishery, the MSC fishery certificate is issued. The Contractor registers the certificate in the Contractor's Register of MSC certificate holders.
MSC fishery certificates are valid for 5 years.
Stage 8. Surveillance audits
At least once a year the Contractor will carry surveillance audits of the Client to monitor the fulfillment by the Client of the action plan on the implementation of conditions raised in the report. Main attributes of such audits include monitoring continued compliance by the Client with the MSC fisheries standard, verification of achievement by the Client of the set target outcomes. At least 4 surveillance audits shall be conducted during the 5-year certificate’s validity period.
The MSC fishery certificate is the property of the certification body. The Client is a certificate holder.