MSC continues to act to ensure robust and credible fishery assessments

September 14, 2010 09:48

Following the decisions of the MSC Board of Trustees (Board meeting, June 2010), new initiatives that further enhance the quality and consistency of fishery assessments will be implemented by the MSC Executive, reports with reference to MSC. 

The new developments, which include increased resources for and focus on training of certifiers, fishery assessment team members and peer reviewers, a comprehensive review and consolidation of scheme documentation, and a creation of a standardized pre-assessment tool, are part of the MSC's ongoing commitment to ensuring that its program remains the most robust and credible fishery certification system in the world.

These additional efforts further the MSC's work to continuously improve the quality and consistency of the program. Examples of other MSC work to develop and improve its methods and policies include the adoption, in 2008, of a standardized fisheries assessment methodology (FAM); and new rules, introduced earlier this year, enhancing the requirements for certifiers to explicitly respond to stakeholder and peer review comments. 
More resources, improved systems

"Our Board's top priority is to continue to improve our assessment program," said Will Martin, Chairman of the Board.  "We're listening very closely to our partners, and we continue the work of developing and revising policies, procedures and systems to ensure the program keeps up with current thinking and best practice."  

The Board agreed the following actions:  

  • A comprehensive review, clarification and consolidation of all the MSC's program documents and requirements for fishery assessments

This major effort over the next 6-12 months will consolidate all the MSC ‘scheme' documentation - the requirements and guidance which operationalise the MSC Fisheries and Chain of Custody Standards - into a simple, clear and concise format, in order to clarify the requirements of the program.  This will help certifiers to meet the MSC standard more effectively; it will allow all stakeholders to better understand the program and how it should be implemented; and it will enable improved monitoring of certifier actions against the requirements.  Importantly, this project will not change MSC's requirements.

  • Appointment of a Certifier Trainer and a creation of a compulsory core training module for all peer reviewers

Additional MSC resources will be invested in training for certifiers and peer reviewers, as part of the MSC's continuing commitment to ensure quality and consistency in the implementation of program requirements.  The MSC has appointed a full time training manager who will advance and further develop the current certifier training program.  The trainer will also develop new training modules for peer reviewers, some of which will eventually be compulsory.  These new training modules are in response to the rapid growth of the program and the need to make sure that all fisheries experts involved in MSC assessments are well versed in what the MSC expects and requires of them in these important roles.

  • Creation of a standardized pre-assessment tool The confidential pre-assessment process, which fisheries considering MSC certification are recommended to undertake, is a valuable aspect of the MSC program, yielding important insights about individual fisheries and their potential performance against the MSC standard. The Board agreed to the creation of a standardized pre-assessment tool, based on the MSC Fisheries Assessment Methodology. The more the structure and content of the pre-assessment is linked with the full assessment process, the more prepared fisheries will be if they decide to ultimately enter full assessment. A standardized pre-assessment tool will also enable the MSC to track changes in fishing practices that may result between pre- and full assessment. Certifiers will be consulted on the format of the tool before it is finalized and implemented.

MSC credibility

 "The credibility of the MSC program and its assessment process is the foundation of our program's value to our partners," said Rupert Howes, MSC Chief Executive.  "And that is why we are ever vigilant in pursuing improvements to our program to ensure its continued rigor and quality as the MSC grows and fisheries science evolves.  I am pleased at the progress made at the recent Board and Technical Advisory Board meetings to continue to move policy and actions forward to these ends".

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