Problems with Marine Stewardship Council's Version 3.0 standard forces delay in implementation

Marine Stewardship Council eco-labels on seafood products.

The Marine Stewardship Council is revising its approach to its implementation of version 3.0 of its fisheries standard after receiving numerous complaints.

Published in October 2022, MSC Version 3.0 came into effect for new fisheries in May 2023, with previously certified fisheries given six years to enter compliance. The standard review and update for version 3.0 began in 2018 and was considered the most comprehensive review ever conducted by the organization.

“Since its release, we have engaged in an intensive roll-out program, testing the new requirements with fisheries and gathering extensive feedback from independent assessors and fishery partners at workshops held around the world,” MSC U.S. Senior Public Relations Manager Jackie Marks said in an email. “This process has highlighted areas that need to be amended. As a result, the MSC will release an updated standard in July 2024 to ensure its requirements are applied consistently and deliver the intended sustainability outcomes.”

Certification to the new standard has not been paused, according to Marks, with some fisheries continuing to move into version 3. Marks said MSC has suggested those that received a favorable pre-assessment consider moving forward with their certification to the 3.0 standard. However, some fisheries now have the option to stay on Version 2 for longer.

"In light of the changes, fisheries are being given the option of continuing to use Version 2.01 ... for a further two years while we review some of the issues that have arisen. Not all MSC-certified fisheries have been impacted by this," she said.

According to Marks, under a new derogation, the MSC Version 2.01 standard will apply to new fisheries entering the certification beginning ...

Photo courtesy of Marine Stewardship Council

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