Derogation 3: Covid-19 Fishery and Chain of Custody Remote Auditing

6 September 2021
1. Some supermarket, hotel or restaurant chains have temporary closures due to Covid-19 which result in CoC certificate cancellations as per the derogation. The process for certification and licensing is different in this case.

STEP 1 – CAB confirms certificate cancellation to consumer serving business. The derogation requires companies with extended temporarily closures to cancel their CoC certification. Where the CAB becomes aware that an audit will not be possible before the extended deadline, they need to cancel the certificate at the deadline and advise the consumer serving business to:
• Not sell product as certified whilst CoC certification is cancelled (unless received and sold in retail pack)
• Inform their CAB prior to sites reopening if they wish to make MSC or ASC product claims on any products which are not received and sold on in the same retail pack (so these can be covered by an interim certificate)
• Ask MSCI whether their license agreement can be maintained, and if so what materials and claims relating to MSC or ASC can be maintained. MSCI will contact the business directly at the time of cancellation or the business may also contact MSCI in advance of this.

STEP 2 – MSCI confirms licensing status to consumer serving business. MSCI will confirm whether the license agreement can be maintained and if so what materials and claims relating to MSC and ASC can be used. Where the license agreement is maintained, it may, for example, allow the cancelled CoC certificate holder to:
• Communicate their participation in the MSC or ASC program
• Keep the MSC or ASC claims on materials (e.g., menus) which are not currently in use (for the sites temporarily closed).
• In some cases, the license may also cover point of sale MSC or ASC claims relating to products received and sold on by the business in retail packs.
The license holder is responsible for assuring no claims are misleading.

STEP 3 – Consumer serving business informs CABs of opening dates. The consumer serving business will need to give the CABs advance notice of site opening dates if they wish to make the MSC or ASC claims on products (excluding those received and sold in retail pack) when the business re-opens. They should give as much notice as they possibly can to help the CAB effectively arrange an audit soon after opening. The CAB can then apply through the MSC database for an interim certificate beginning on the sites opening date and lasting up to 90 days (according to CoC CR 6.2.4-6.2.7). The CAB will need to arrange the audit within these 90 days and with sufficient time to allow for non-conformity, close out and decision before the interim certificate expires. STEP 4 – CAB conducts audit and issues a new 3-year certificate if successful. This audit to rejoin the program following a temporary closure due to Covid can be considered within the derogation clause 1.5.a. Therefore, a variation is not required to conduct this audit remotely where the CABs and/or their clients are affected by the factors listed in 1.1 of the derogation. Where the audit is successfully passed a new 3-year certificate can be issued.

2. CFO sites may be eligible for remote audit where impacted by Covid-19 as per the derogation. Do these remote audits need to be carried out at short notice as per table 9 of the CoC Certification Requirements?

Where the CABs and/or their clients are affected by the factors listed in 1.1 of the derogation, adherence to CoCCR 7.2.8 on short notice audits is not required.

3. Is there a template for remote initial audits risk assessment and where can this be found?

The derogation requires that the risk assessment includes at a minimum all risks listed in tables 2 and 3 of Derogation 3: Covid-19 Fishery and Chain of Custody Remote Auditing (clause 1.5.b.i). MSC provides a template MSC Chain of Custody remote audit risk factors form which can be found in the CAB supporting documents.

4. How does derogation 3 affect when internal audits under the Group CoC Standard need to be conducted onsite?

This is an update to Question 11 of the derogation 3 downloaded here.
When and what type of site internal audit is required for group certification is now clarified in the interpretation 'Which sites require onsite or remote internal audits and when?'. The factors in 1.1 of derogation 3 may however impact the ability to conduct an internal audit onsite. The application of the derogation is as follows:
• When an onsite internal audit is required to add a site prior to group certification the CAB may apply for a variation for internal audits to be remote if: the factors in derogation 3 clause 1.1. apply, and the CAB considers the risks to be effectively mitigated.
• Where an onsite internal audit is required to add a new site to existing group certificate, it is permitted to carry this out remotely without the need for variation where the factors in derogation 3 clause 1.1 apply.

5. Does a video site tour need to be conducted as part of a remote audit?

Derogation 3: Covid-19 Fishery and Chain of Custody Remote Auditing requirement 1.13 states that "The CAB should ensure that remote audit/assessments replicate on-site audits/assessments as far as practicably possible." with further guidance provided, including 'being able to conduct a factory tour' as an example. The intent of this clause is that a video tour of the site is to be conducted wherever possible. Where a video site tour is not possible (for example there is no Wi-Fi or phone connectivity), the auditor needs a way to be able to see what is happening on site at the time of the audit to replicate an in-person audit – for example they could request date stamped photos to be taken during the audit of areas which they specify. All photos should be received by the auditor before the end of the audit. A review of documentation only, or historic images, is not sufficient.