Independent adjudicator issues preliminary decision in Russia Sea of Okhotsk Pollock Fishery Remand

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Source: Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Independent Adjudicator (IA) Michael Lodge, in a preliminary decision sent to the parties today and published on the Marine Stewardship Council website, will allow the conformance assessment body (CAB), Intertek Moody Marine (IMM), to submit its revised scoring rationale to peer review and comment, to address an objection filed by At-Sea Processors (APA) on the ground of procedural irregularity.

Once the procedural issue has been resolved, the IA said he will consider the other scoring issues raised by the objector related to Principle 1 and Principle 2 indicators.

The full text of the decision by the Independent Adjudicator, as well as documents related to the assessment, can be accessed online at Russia Sea of Okhotsk Information.

Next Steps

The preliminary decision by the IA includes a timeline for the sequence of steps going forward:

  • Peer review phase to be completed by August 23, 2013;
  • Revise scoring rationale and CAB to address peer review comments by August 30, 2013;
  • Objector review and comment by September 6, 2013;
  • Finalize scoring of PI 1.2.3 by September 13, 2013; and,
  • IA issues a decision within five working days after the submission of final scores on P1, 1.2.3.

APA Objection Background

The At-Sea Processors Association (APA) filed an objection that challenged the assessment team’s conclusion the fishery meets the MSC’s global standard for sustainability. An objection hearing with the IA presiding was held in London on May 31, and on June 19, the IA remanded the final report and determination (FCR). IMM subsequently responded and comments to the CAB’s response were submitted by APA.

The issues under remand are in two areas:

Procedural

Whether a change in score for Principle 1, scoring indicator 1.2.3 that was made between the release of the Public Comment Draft Report (PCDR) and Final Certification Report (FCR) was a procedural breach of MSC’s Certification Requirements, making a material difference to the assessment. The scoring indicator regards “Information and Monitoring” and whether relevant information is collected to support the harvest strategy. Three other procedural objections filed were dismissed by the IA.

Scoring

Scores for Principle 1, performance indicator 1.2.2., Harvest Control Rules, and 1.2.3; and,

Scores for performance indicators P1 2.2.1, 2.2.2, 2.2.3, which relate to by-catch species outcome, management strategy and monitoring; and, 2.3.1, 2.3.2, 2.3.3, which relate to ETP outcome, management and information.
Objections Procedure Background

The MSC certification program contains an objections procedure as a final optional step in an assessment to provide an orderly, structured, transparent and independent process for review of the certifier’s recommendation if stakeholders challenge the outcome.

An Independent Adjudicator looks specifically at whether any errors were made by the certifier that would materially affect the outcome in reaching a decision about certification. The objections procedure does not re-assess a fishery. The findings are determined by the Independent Adjudicator on the basis of materials submitted and in some cases as in this one, an oral hearing. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has no direct role in the objections process or outcome.

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