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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
MSC undertakes review of eco-label requirements
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is undertaking a review of the technical traceability requirements and verification procedures for seafood products carrying the MSC eco-label as part of an ongoing project to maximise the robustness and effectiveness of the MSCs Chain of Custody standard and certification programme.
Chain of Custody certification ensures MSC-labelled seafood can be tracked through the supply chain and provides a vital assurance for fish buyers seeking MSC-certified sustainable seafood. It also provides the legal underpinning for use of the MSCs distinctive blue eco-label on seafood products.
The MSCs Traceability and Assurance in the Supply Chain (TASC) project has been developed with the advice of key stakeholders, and builds on a series of initiatives over recent years investing in the MSCs Chain of Custody programme. The project will involve:
- Product tracebacks down the supply chain from the point of sale to the source fishery. These will be supported by random checks made by independent auditors to verify full compliance with the MSCs Chain of Custody standard.
- Investigating additional verification methods of the supply chain and labelled products.
- Training and guidance materials for MSC-accredited Chain of Custody auditors, and advice for seafood companies to support effective and consistent implementation. These follow the publication of the myMSC handbook for companies preparing for a Chain of Custody audit.
- Improved internal procedures for handling data, approving packaging and giving advice to new enquirers.
- A dedicated phone and email contact point for anyone who has information or is concerned about the misuse of the MSC label and enhanced information on the MSC website www.msc.org.
The MSC will also set up an expert working group to support and advise on the TASC project, inviting a range of stakeholders to take part, including members of the MSCs Technical Advisory Board (TAB), Fisheries Client Group and commercial partners.
Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC, announced the projects remit: "In the context of widespread illegal fishing, it is essential that there is a global and industry-wide move to improve the traceability of seafood to rebuild and retain public confidence in product sourcing and labelling claims. The MSC has a part to play in this and the TASC project will build on the programme we have already established. No system is perfect and, as the momentum behind the MSC programme continues to grow, the organisation recognises that the incentive for fraudulent use of seafood eco-labels will increase. Traceability is an essential business requirement, and we need to ensure our systems keep pace with this fast-moving industry. In some cases the TASC project may lead to more streamlined and efficient processes, in others it may strengthen the controls available to auditors."
MSC Chain of Custody certificates are awarded for three years by independent, accredited certification bodies that conduct on-site audits of seafood businesses to ensure that MSC-labelled fish is kept separate from non-MSC fish throughout the supply chain. Today, there are more than 250 seafood businesses with Chain of Custody certificates or MSC logo license agreements and nearly 500 MSC-labelled products are available to consumers in 25 countries around the world.
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