The Marine Stewardship Council is continuing to permit remote assessments and audits where Covid-19 restrictions prevent on-site audits. This is due to the continuing impact of the pandemic on the sustainable seafood industry.
The decision is based on the MSC’s close monitoring of the effect of previous derogations for fisheries and chain of custody holders and is effective from 28 September 2020 to 27 March 2021.
An unprecedented initial six-month automatic extension to the usual timelines for MSC assessments and certifications came into effect on 27 March 2020 and will end on 27 September 2020.
MSC certificate holders may continue to use remote assessments and audits in place of the usual site visits for another six months where national or local Covid-19 restrictions apply or the independent assessor considers a health risk is involved. Initial assessments of fisheries and supply-chains for businesses that do not yet have a certificate will require additional risk assessments and reviews. Remote assessments have proven effective since their implementation in March.
Chain of Custody certificate holders who are required to undergo independent labour audits still have until 28 March 2021 or the second audit in the revised standard (whichever is later), to complete these.
Chief Science and Standards Officer at the MSC, Rohan Currey said:
“Many fisheries and supply chains continue to be affected by the impacts of the pandemic. Certificate holders must continue to meet the requirements of the MSC Standards. We recognise this may require alternative measures to ensure sustainability and traceability of seafood.
“We want to reassure those engaged in our program that we recognise the local constraints on many partners, and we will do what we can to support our partners through these unprecedented times. However we must maintain the integrity of our global certification programs for the long-term benefit of all partners.”
Details of the temporary changes to assessment and certification processes are available via the MSC website. The MSC team will be contacting fisheries, conformity assessment bodies and partners in the sustainable seafood supply chain with further information in the coming days. Other MSC activities, such as the licensing of products, will carry on as normal.