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Zero Toleration for Labour Abuse in Updated Marine Stewardship Council Fisheries Standard

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GLOBAL - The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has launched its updated standard for sustainable fishing. The updated standard will apply from 1 April 2015.

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Version 2.0 of the MSC’s Fisheries Certification Requirements reflects the most up-to-date understanding of fishery science and management. The standard was developed over the past two years and involved a year-long consultation with fishing industry experts, scientists, NGOs and MSC’s wide network of partners. It encompasses the expert knowledge of MSC stakeholders from around the world.

Ensuring most up-to-date practices

The updated standard raises the bar for a number of important issues including bycatch mitigation, vulnerable marine ecosystems and forced labour. It ensures that fisheries certified against the MSC standard continue to adopt the most up-to-date practices in order to ensure the security of fish stocks and livelihoods for generations to come.

Six months to apply the updates

Conformity assessment bodies (CABs) now have six months to understand and apply the updates so that from 1 April 2015 any fishery entering MSC assessment will be assessed against the updated standard. Fisheries that are already certified to the MSC standard will have to apply the updated standard at their first re-assessment commencing after 1 October 2017.

“This is an exciting development for the MSC. It adds rigour and robustness to the program and will have a positive and lasting impact on the health of world’s oceans,” explained MSC Standards Director Dr David Agnew.

10 key updates

  1. Special considerations now ensure the protection of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs);
  2. MSC fisheries will no long be at risk of generating cumulative negative impacts on bycatch species;
  3. Fisheries will need to regularly review alternative measures that could reduce the mortality of unwanted species in the catches;
  4. Strengthened requirements will ensure that shark finning is not occurring in MSC fisheries;
  5. An entirely new default standard has been introduced for the assessment of enhanced salmon fisheries, following six years of discussion with stakeholders;
  6. A new risk based framework (RBF) assessment method for habitats is now available for use in data-limited situations;
  7. Revised surveillance audit and re-assessment requirements have been developed intended to minimise the assessment costs for fishery clients;
  8. An independent Peer Review College has been created to provide a more standardised and effective peer review process;
  9. Requirements have been added to provide more effective traceability of seafood products from fisheries into the supply chain;
  10. Companies successfully prosecuted for forced labour violations shall be ineligible for MSC certification.

Diverse range of stakeholders consulted

As summarised by Dr Agnew: “The MSC standard for sustainable fishing was created to ensure the long term sustainability of fish stocks and marine environments impacted by fishing, to the long-term benefit of fishers and our oceans. As new research shapes and improves our understanding of marine life and fisheries science, it is crucial that the standard remains scientifically robust, effective and relevant."

“The fisheries standard review involved a broad and diverse sweep of interested parties, from fishery managers and marine biologists, to NGOs and conservationists. It has been a challenging and illuminating process, and one that has helped produce a standard of which all our stakeholders can be proud.”

The changes resulting from the Fisheries Standard Review (FSR) and Speed and Cost Review (SCR) have been incorporated into the MSC’s Fisheries Certification Requirements Version 2.0, which will be used by third-party conformity assessment bodies (CABs) to assess the sustainability of fisheries within the MSC program.

Compliance with FAO and ISEAL

The new certification requirements enable the standard to remain consistent with international best practice in science and management. The FSR has also allowed the MSC to stay in line with FAO ecolabelling guidelines and the ISEAL standard setting code.

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