MSC launches new global standard for sustainable fishing

28 October 2022
The MSC has launched its new global standard for sustainable fishing. The release of MSC Fisheries Standard version 3.0 follows the most extensive review of marine science and fisheries best practice ever undertaken by the organisation.

The launch of the new Standard means that certified fisheries will remain leaders in sustainable fishing, going further to protect marine wildlife, fish stocks and ecosystems. The new Standard has also been streamlined to ensure language is clear and easy to understand, and to reduce complexities.

Highlighting the increasing pressures on fisheries, marine ecosystems and food systems from overfishing, climate change and biodiversity loss, the MSC's Chief Executive, Rupert Howes praised the commitment, engagement and insight shown by industry, fisheries managers, conservationists and scientists, in their contributions to the new Standard. The new requirements will drive progress in sustainable fishing, helping to address the urgent need to conserve our ocean while also feeding a growing global population, he added.

The Standard includes a new definition of, and greater protections for, endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species. It introduces a new policy to increase confidence that shark finning is not taking place within certified fisheries and puts greater responsibility on certified fisheries to prevent and reduce the impact of lost fishing gear, known as ghost gear. It also sets stronger requirements for effective monitoring and surveillance of fishing operations, particularly those on the high seas, and for international agreements on harvest strategies to safeguard shared fish stocks.

The new Standard is the culmination of more than four years' research, public consultation and testing during which the MSC reviewed more than 600 submissions from stakeholders with expertise in fishing, ocean conservation, certification and seafood.

In addition to the new Standard and guidance, MSC have published the following documents, which highlight the specific changes made and enable Version 3.0 to be compared with Version 2.01: Fisheries Standard 3.0 with tracked changes (PDF) and Change tracking report (Excel spreadsheet)

Implementing the new Standard: These revisions to MSC Standard will drive progress in sustainable fishing and will contribute to accelerating the delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. To ensure that progress can be made sooner, we have introduced a new policy that requires all certified fisheries to have completed reassessment, or a transition assessment, to the new version of the Standard by 01 November 2028. Fisheries seeking certification for the first time after 01 May 2023 will be assessed against the new version.

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UCSL Marine Team