MSC Trustees and Technical Advisors advance policy development focused on quality and consistency of MSC program and agree strategic directions

January 20, 2011 14:37

The Marine Stewardship Council  Board of Trustees and its Technical Advisory Board recently completed four days of governance meetings where they continued policy development work on the quality and consistency of the MSC's fishery and Chain of Custody certification programs.  The Board also took action on critical institutional and strategic issues and laid in a course to address these, reports with reference to MSC.

"Our Board's priority continues to be to improve our assessment program," said Will Martin, Chairman of the Board.  "Our staff continually monitors and evaluates our program, and learns from the experiences of the MSC's partners and stakeholders.  The decisions made at this meeting, and the continuing refinement of policies, procedures and systems, ensure that the MSC program keeps up with current science and best practice.  And, with key actions agreed on strategic issues, the Board is ensuring that the MSC is well positioned and fit for purpose for the future." 

"These were the most strategic and content-rich meetings of the two governance bodies we had yet", agreed Rupert Howes, MSC Chief Executive.  "The outcomes of the meetings are crystal clear evidence of the MSC's commitment to maintaining the high level of quality in our global program and in making sure we are well positioned for the twists and turns of the future." 

Among the priority issues agreed and acted on by the Board and TAB, are:
Strategic Direction

  • Strategic Plan Update: The Board launched an update of the MSC's strategic plan. The process will engage the MSC governance bodies, staff and key stakeholders to craft a new strategic plan for 2012-17 with strategic priorities to guide the organization's allocation of resources and effort, and the operational plans needed to pursue those priorities.
  • Governance Review: In keeping with good governance practices, the Board will commission an external governance review over the first half of 2011, reviewing all three governance bodies of the MSC, their current function and future directions. This review is to be completed for consideration at the June 2011 Board meeting.
  • Partnerships: Approved development work to extend the MSC's Chain of Custody and logo license program services to other organizations in the sustainable seafood arena, to provide efficiencies for partners in the seafood supply chain. Analysis and program development will be carried out in 2011 with potential for implementation thereafter.
  • Review of MSC's Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing: In keeping with its adherence to international norms for standard-setting bodies, the MSC is committed to periodic reviews of its standards. The Board agreed to conduct a review of the fishery standard in 2013 with the involvement of the MSC's many stakeholders. Based on the results of the stakeholder consultations, the Board will then decide whether, and in what respects, the standard will be amended.
Program Improvements
  • Pre-Assessments: Approved a standardized framework for pre-assessments in order to increase quality and consistency, and instituted mandatory reporting on all pre-assessments with information on species, gear, scale, status of the fishery against the MSC standard, and actions in the fishery since completion of the preassessment. This latter action will help in tracking environmental impacts in the MSC program, and the first round of data will be collected in April 2011 looking back 2 years.
  • Environmental Impacts Monitoring: Approved a new requirement for key data on a fisheries performance and environmental impacts to be collected when a fishery enters full assessment. Required information includes changes in key MSC indicators since pre-assessment or, in the absence of a pre-assessment, since a date when fishery can show it began working towards MSC certification. The data collected will help in detailing the ways in which the market incentives inherent in the MSC program lead to improvements in fishing practices and conservation by fisheries seeking certification.
  • Rebuilding Timeframes for Depleted Fisheries: Approved an amended stock rebuilding Performance Indicator and scoring guidance that specify maximum acceptable rebuilding timeframes for a fishery classified as depleted when assessed against the MSC fishery standard.
  • Setting and Implementation of Conditions: Approved a new requirement that all conditions of a certification are set with annual milestones and subsequently tracked on an annual basis; and if no progress is identified at an annual audit, prescribed actions are required before the next audit.
  • Introduced Species: Approved a pilot program to develop assessment protocols for wild capture fisheries based on (non-native) introduced species, where the introduced species are irreversible, self sustaining and meet other specific criteria.
  • Policy Pipeline and Policy Development Priorities: The Board and TAB affirmed the MSC's policy pipeline and policy development priorities for 2011 and beyond. Please see policy pipeline for full details of the policy development priorities for 2011.
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