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MSC: New Fishery Assessment Methodology

UK - After two years of scientific collaboration and consultation, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has announced the launch of its new Fishery Assessment Methodology designed to improve the quality and consistency of fisheries assessments, without either raising or lowering the bar against which the performance of a fishery is assessed.

They say that the new Fishery Assessment Methodology is an addition to the existing MSC Fishery Certification Methodology (which defines the process for assessments), and will strengthen the assessment process at the heart of the world’s most trusted and credible seafood certification programme.

"The new methodology is the biggest change in the MSC programme since the standard was created back in the 1990s."
MSC’s Deputy Chief Exec, Chris Ninnes

The release of this new Methodology will mean a change in the process by which fisheries are assessed. In the past, independent certifiers were required to create an assessment tree for each individual fishery entering assessment. The new Fishery Assessment Methodology now provides a default assessment tree that will be used as the basis for all new assessments; every fishery will now know ahead exactly what will be asked of them in order to meet the MSC standard. In addition, the new assessment tree is supported by comprehensive guidance that clearly outlines to certifiers exactly how the MSC standard should be interpreted.

MSC’s Deputy Chief Exec, Chris Ninnes is in charge of the project: “This launch of the standardised assessment trees with 31 default indicators and scoring guideposts is the culmination of a two year intensive effort to take the world’s most rigorous standard for fisheries sustainability and create a tool that makes application of that standard even better. The new methodology is the biggest change in the MSC programme since the standard was created back in the 1990s. The new methodology doesn’t raise or lower the bar but it will improve the consistency of assessments by defining the assessment trees from the outset.”

Ensuring that the new methodology doesn’t raise the bar – or lower it – has been a key concern for the team that developed it. Dan Hoggarth, MSC’s Fisheries Assessment Director says: “The new standardised assessment tree provides the operational interpretation of the MSC standard. It has been developed and tested in collaboration with our independent certifiers, assessment experts and other stakeholders. A range of tests have clearly shown the similarity of the scores obtained for the new standardised assessment tree against the previous tree.”