Critical changes needed to improve the MSC Standard

/Critical changes needed to improve the MSC Standard

Critical changes needed to improve the MSC Standard

Critical requirements necessary to improve marine stewardship council principle 2

The MSC Standard should reflect global best practices in fisheries management and drive positive change on the water. We are watching to see how the current Fisheries Standard Review (FSR) addresses the critical flaws the Make Stewardship Count coalition of experts has identified in the current standard. To reduce the ecological impacts of certified fisheries, the revised Standard must:

This rating covers the 2019 phase of the FSR, leading up to the Board’s public announcement of the official topics included in the Review in March 2020. We will update ratings as proposed changes to the Standard are released throughout the Review process.

Meets Expectations Improving Below Expectations NOTE: Click on each “finger icon” for more information.
  • Cumulative impact assessment required for all species caught by ALL fisheries (MSC and non MSC) in the same area
    • Not included in the FSR Terms of reference.
    • Potential for this to be addressed under Review topic: Ensuring the ecosystem performance indicators are clear and consistently applied.
  • Application of precautionary principle and best science is used to 1) designate a species as ‘ETP’ and 2) assess fishery impacts on those species
    • Discussions so far suggest that only the IUCN red list will be used for designation thereby ignoring international multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs).
  • ETP species should be inclusive of, but not limited to, all IUCN Red List ‘threatened’ categories
    • Lack of clarity as to how assessment of impacts on ETP species will be addressed.
  • Prerequisite for certification: bycatch must not exceed a risk based maximum percentage of catch
    • Not included in the FSR Terms of Reference.
  • Progressive reduction of bycatch during certification
    • Conditions that define risk based annual bycatch reduction rates
    • Verification of achieved bycatch reduction during surveillance audits

    • Not included in the FSR Terms of Reference.
    • Potential for this to be addressed under Review topic: Clarifying best practice for reducing impacts on ETP species.
  • Prerequisite for certification: no fishing methods that include the intentional encirclement of marine mammals or ETP species
    • Not included in the FSR Terms of Reference
    • Potential for this to be addressed under Review topic: Clarifying best practice for reducing impacts on ETP species.
  • Prerequisite for certification: All fisheries interacting with sharks (elasmobranchs) must have a ‘fins naturally attached’ (FNA) policy implemented and enforced
    • Finning is part of the FSR but based on discussions during the 2019 FCP revision, MSC appears not to consider FNA as global best practice that should be implemented at entry level.
  • All fishing practices used by the fishery must be assessed during certification
    • Upon recertification all remaining fishing techniques have improved to the Standard

    • The revised FCP (2019) ensured that certified fisheries will no longer be able to target a stock using both certified and non-certified fishing practices with the same gear (known as compartmentalisation).
  • All ‘main’ species of the catch must meet the same criteria as target species (P1) even if discarded
    • Harvest control rules for Principle 1 are under review during the FSR, but it is not clear whether this will be extended to other main species.
  • Overfishing (F>Fmsy) is prohibited for all ‘main’ species of the catch
    • Not included in the FSR Terms of Reference for target or other main species.
  • Prerequisite to Certification: No bottom fisheries in known or likely VME areas
    • May be addressed under Review topic: Ensure habitat PIs are clear and consistently applied.
  • Benthic impacts must be reversible in less than 10 years
    • Prerequisite to certification: 50% of benthic habitat type in a region closed to all fishing

    • Review topic on habitat performance indicators continues to use the definition for ‘irreversible damage’ as ‘recover in 20 years or more.’
    • Review topic on habitat performance indicators does not indicate protection or closure thresholds are being considered.
  • Prerequisite for certification: risk based qualitative and quantitative data requirements exist for bycatch reporting
    • Consistent data requirement for comparable fisheries

    • Adequacy of data (quality and quantity) for scoring announced as part of FSR.
  • Upon request stakeholders must have access to all data used for scoring of fishery by CABs (including, inter alia, AIS, VMS, EM, observer raw data)
    • Not part of the FSR Terms of Reference but possibly to be covered under data adequacy.
  • Peer review should be included in any annual audit where conditions are closed
    • Possibility for stakeholder objection to surveillance audit outcomes

    • Conditions were addressed in the 2019 FCP (Fisheries Certification Process) Review.
    • Peer review is now required, but stakeholder objection is still not possible.
  • No recertification prior to verified fulfilment of all conditions
    • Condition extension was tightened in the 2019 FCP review, however extension of conditions is still allowed in some circumstances.

Make Stewardship Count, other stakeholders, and researchers continue to raise concerns about CAB impartiality and MSC accountability as the Standard holder. Neither of the following topics has been taken up in the Fisheries Standard Review and MSC has ignored these concerns.

  • Ensure impartiality of the assessment, certification and audit processes, CABs must be independently assigned
    • Not addressed during FCP or announced for FSR.
  • MSC must be proactive and intervene in case of urgent and obvious problems
    • No evidence of improvement apparent so far.
2020-08-26T16:29:17+00:00July 23rd, 2020|