MSC Streamlines Seafood Standards


A leading sustainable seafood certification program has revised its requirements for seafood suppliers, processors, and vendors.

Following feedback from over 200 stakeholders around the world, the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Chain of Custody Standard is now more streamlined, clear, and accessible.

The updated MSC Chain of Custody Standard includes a new specific set of requirements designed to work better for consumer-facing companies such as restaurants, fishmongers, and caterers. The standard also continues to offer a cost-effective group chain of custody option for large organizations or groups of smaller businesses that wish to work together to get certified.

All MSC Chain of Custody audits must apply the updated standard from Sept. 1, 2015. Certified organizations that have scheduled an audit before September should contact their certification body to verify when they will transition to the updated standard.

The MSC Chain of Custody Standard ensures that only seafood from wild-capture fisheries certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard for environmentally sustainable fishing can carry the MSC label and claim. The standard is also used to ensure the integrity of the supply chain for responsibly farmed seafood certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) standard. 

Organizations may now choose to be certified against one of three versions of the MSC Chain of Custody Standard, depending on the nature of their business—default, group, or consumer facing.

The new version of the standard for consumer-facing organisations was developed with extensive stakeholder input and piloted with six previously uncertified companies. Their feedback suggests that the new version of the standard is significantly more accessible and fit-for-purpose than the previous MSC Chain of Custody requirements.

Other key changes to the MSC Chain of Custody Standard include:

  • Clearer requirements for identification and traceability of certified products
  • More specific requirements for companies to confirm the certified status of products upon receipt, and to ensure they only purchase from certified suppliers
  • Greater emphasis on competency of staff in meeting the MSC Chain of Custody Standard and more emphasis on interviews during audit, in addition to checking training records
  • Revised requirements for ‘under-assessment product’ (formerly ‘UMAF’) so only fisheries, farms, or organizations that are named members of the fishery/ farm will be eligible to buy and store under-assessment product
  • Streamlined group requirements for the MSC Chain of Custody Standard to allign better with the Default version of the standard
  • A more equitable and consistent approach for timing of surveillance audits with most companies now on annual surveillance audits, with very specific categories of organizations qualifying for a reduced 18-month frequency
News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.

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