In a decision published today on the Marine Stewardship Council website, Independent Adjudicator (IA) Michael Lodge, who presided over the objection process for the Russia Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery, remanded the assessment back to the conformance assessment body (CAB), Intertek Moody Marine (IMM) to review and respond in two specific areas: a procedural issue and scoring.
In the decision the IA directed IMM to respond to 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.
Objections to scoring
In the decision the IA remanded for further consideration the score given by IMM to the Principle 1 performance indicator 1.2.2. Harvest Control Rules. He found that the certifiers’ decision that the fishery met the second scoring guidepost of PI 1.2.2 at the 80 level is not adequately justified. The IA dismissed three other objections regarding Principle 1 scoring, and did not rule on another objection regarding Principle 1 scoring because it directly relates to the procedural objection on “Information and Monitoring” that the IA remanded.
The IA also remanded for further consideration six scores for Principle 2 performance indicators, saying the scoring of these Principle 2 performance indicators is not adequately supported by the evidence on the record.
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.
IMM has until July 3 to respond to the IA’s decision. The IA will then review IMM’s response and make a further determination on whether the issues have been adequately addressed.
This decision from the Independent Adjudicator is the result of an objection filed by the At-Sea Processors Association (APA) challenging IMM’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; the objector, fishery client and certifier all were represented.
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.