The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) published its Fishery Standard and Certification Requirements in 1999 after considerable stakeholder involvement. As with other third party certification schemes certification decisions can be challenged through a complaints process. However, the MSC introduced a more specific Objection Procedure to deal with complaints and appeals and further revised this to increase credibility and to fully comply with FAO guidelines. The purpose of this paper is to examine the origin and evolution of the Objections Procedure taking into account criticisms and experience gained and the value that the procedure adds to the MSC certification process. The Objections Procedure has undergone several stages of development and review, and since 2006 the rate of objections has remained relatively stable. However, the analysis here shows fisheries with low scores have a higher chance of receiving an objection, with a bias towards raising an objection on lower scoring Performance Indicators (PIs) which is significant and may be a result of “gaming” the system. Recent trends have also seen an increase in objections settled through consultation and issues relating to stakeholder and peer reviewer comments not being adequately considered. But, although only one fishery has failed certification due to an objection, fishery improvements through score changes and new and modified conditions add value to the certification process by increasing credibility and accountability, which has been supported by stakeholder feedback where the value of the Objection Procedure was confirmed by past users.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.