The MSC Board of Trustees has approved the Fishery Standard, claiming it as a major achievement for the label. The final text however, has not been released and will not be available until October 31 2022.
This leaves us and other stakeholders unable to fully assess whether the new Standard will address the concerns that we have raised. We are particularly concerned that MSC failed to remove loopholes, reduce Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) discretion and rectify the lack of strong definitions in the final approved text. This will result in a failure to deliver urgently needed improvement on the water and will continue to allow unsustainable fisheries to be certified.
We do commend the MSC and staff for the intensive work put into this Standard Review. In the last publicly available draft, we were pleased to see the Standard finally inculde a requirement for certified fisheries to have a Fins Naturally Attached policy in place for sharks landed; a ban on marine mammal harassment in the course of fishing; a broader definition of species that will be assessed as Endangered, Threatened, and Protected; and a recognition that the quality of catch data in certified fisheries needs substantial improvement.
Along with many other stakeholders, we have advocated for stronger requirements for independent observation of catch and engaged heavily in each draft of the Review of evidence requirements. The last public draft was far from final and it is disappointing that requests for further consultation from industry, retailers and NGO stakeholders alike on this critical component was denied. Information released along with the announcement indicate that significant changes were made which weaken the objective.
Certified fisheries have until 2028 to implement the new Standard making it critically important to go above and beyond current best practices in global fisheries, otherwise, the label risks falling behind the crest of the wave for sustainable fishing, losing trust & credibility.
Stay tuned for more information as we dig into the announcement and any details available on the new Standard!