Certification, Fisheries Improvement Projects
and responsible sourcing

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Region:    Global

Develop a categorisation of current FIPs in respect of their connection to MSC strategic objectives Global

Marine Stewardship Council - Project Dates:
June 2012 - July 2012

Description of Project:
MSC is aware of a growth in FIPs, particularly with two main FIP providers, WWF and SFP, which is occurring at the same time as an observed reduction in fisheries that are readily able to meet the MSC standard and become certified. MSC perceives clear threats and opportunities in the development of these FIPs: on the one hand the improvements they generate are important for the fisheries themselves and provide them with the improvements necessary to enter MSC assessment; on the other hand the conditional or unconditional market recognition given to fisheries in FIPs threatens to undermine the incentive for them to progress to MSC assessment.

Discussion of the appropriate response of the MSC to FIPs within the MSC’s governance bodies has been confused by the wide range of interests there are within these bodies and the wide range of FIPs and market recognition that is being offered. Although some decisions are clear – that the MSC should not run FIPs, or be associated with consumer facing labels for FIPs – the exact response that is appropriate is not clear.

The MSC is undertaking a project to further elaborate the options that it has for engaging with FIPs. The objective of the final FIP policy should probably be framed around concepts such as encouraging the improvement of fisheries to the point of certification by MSC, while not undermining the value proposition of MSC certification for those fisheries that have invested in and hold certification.

Services Provided:
1. Acquire information on all existing FIPs, establishing to the extent possible the following
a. Species, gear, area
b. Fishery type: small scale, developing world, whitefish, etc.
c. Existence of pre-assessment(s)
d. FIP stage (see SFP FIP stages)
e. Fishery volume and value
f. Current and likely markets, including key retail outlets
g. Likely competitive MSC certified fisheries
2. Catalogue specific commitments made by retail outlets, and the history of their responses to progress in FIPs
3. Categorise the FIPs in terms of their ability to meet MSC objectives for improvements in developed world and developing world, industrial and small-scale fisheries, and their likely impact, if given market recognition while in a FIP, on existing MSC fisheries.
4. Review the experience of current MSC fisheries that have progressed to certification from FIPs, examining specifically the drivers from fishery and markets that incentivised the transition from FIP to MSC. To what extent did these transitions rely on the internal judgement by retailers that the progress against FIP objectives was positive and that a FIP was “credible”?