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MSC Fisheries and Chain of Custody Certification

MSC Fisheries Assessments

The MSC fisheries principles and criteria for sustainable fishing were developed following an international consultation with stakeholders between 1997 and 1999. The standard is based on the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and other international conservation instruments. The MSC standard applies to wild-capture fisheries only – whatever their size, type or location but does not apply to farmed fish.

The MSC’s Standard for determining environmentally sustainable, well-managed fisheries centres around three main principles:

  • The condition of the fish stocks
  • The impacts of the fishery on the surrounding ecosystem
  • The effectiveness and performance of the fishery management system (in biological, environmental, socio-economic, commercial and legal contexts)

For fish processors, traders and retailers the purchase of MSC product ensures a future for their livelihood and the industry as a whole. Eco-labelling often ensures that a product sells at a better price than its counterparts and is attractive to an ever increasing market.


A pre-assessment is a short study of the fishery against the MSC Principles and Criteria and aims to give an indication of the likelihood of the fishery achieving certification to allow for cost-effective decision-making on whether or not to proceed with full certification.

A pre-assessment review generally requires a meeting at your premises (although this is not a pre-requisite), where a technical expert from MEC will discuss with you a series of issues related to the MSC Principles and Criteria for sustainable fisheries, against which the fishery will be judged. MEP recommends to all clients that a Pre-Assessment study is first completed before any decision is finalised on the movement to full assessment against the MSC Principles.

The Marine Stewardship Council

Full Assessments

The full assessment process involves the fishery being assessed by an expert team against the MSC Standard. The MSC Full Assessment process is strictly governed by the MSC Certification Requirements and requires a number of steps to be completed. A site visit must be included to allow the team to gain any relevant stakeholder input. Furthermore the results of the assessment are peer-reviewed and subject to further public consultation and comment.

The collated findings are then evaluated to conclude whether the fishery meets the Standard. The conclusion is posted on the MSC website where there is the final opportunity for public comment. If no objections are raised, the fishery will be certified.

The Marine Stewardship Council

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