The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent non-profit organisation which has developed a standard for sustainable fishing practices. Their aim is to use their certification programme to highlight the need to improve and maintain the health of our oceans and the fisheries which are exploited there. The MSC encourages the use of their ‘blue tick’ ecolabel to recognise fisheries certified to the standard, in this way they raise awareness and influence consumer’s choices about sustainability when buying seafood.
Once fisheries have achieved MSC certification, being able to know that seafood products in the supply chain actually come from a sustainably certified fishery is also part of the MSC programme. Hence the MSC have also set a standard for supply chain traceability known as MSC ‘Chain of Custody’ (MSC CoC).
This demonstrates that all businesses in the supply chain that have purchased and processed the product have been independently audited against the MSC CoC standard. This ensures that the MSC ecolabel is only used on MSC certified seafood, and means that consumers can have the knowledge that the fish they buy comes from a fishery that meets the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing.
To obtain MSC CoC certification, businesses must be audited to demonstrate they have effective traceability systems in place. This enables them to show that their record-keeping systems can prove that only seafood from an MSC certified fishery carries the ecolabel. To maintain an valid traceability chain; businesses that do not eco-label their seafood with the ‘blue tick’ themselves; must still undertake MSC CoC certification if their customers wish to sell MSC certified seafood products further down the supply chain.
The MSC ecolabel can only be used on seafood from an MSC certified fishery by businesses that have a valid MSC Chain of Custody certificate.
Businesses wishing to undertake MSC CoC certification need to gain independent assessment. To do this a business will engage an accredited certifier to audit their business against the MSC CoC standard. Certifiers use MSC Certification Requirements which detail how to assess businesses against the standard. MSC CoC certification is valid for 3 years.
Contacts and further info:
The MSC has a comprehensive website www.msc.org which provides a wealth of information on their sustainable standard and chain of custody, including FAQ’s, guides and processes of engagement. Some useful further links:
For an overview of many FAQ’s on the Chain of Custody standard:click here
To download the full Chain of Custody standard and other Scheme documents: click here
The MSC ecolabel and how to use it: click here
How to go about getting MSC Chain of Custody: click here
Contacting the MSC: click here