1.Types and Units of Certifications

There are three types of MEL certifications according to their purpose: Production stage (Fisheries), production stage (Aquaculture) and Chain of Custody (CoC).

Applicants for production stage certifications should apply in units of fishery (fisheries) or producer(s) (including fisheries cooperatives and corporate associations) that handles a specific fish species with a specific fishing method under the same set of management rules.

For the time being, the scope of production stage certifications shall encompass Japanese fisheries, namely, fisheries/aquaculture implemented in compliance with Japanese fisheries-related laws.

Eligible applicants for CoC certifications are limited to businesses handling seafoods that have been acquired MEL production stage certification for their products.  Multiple-site businesses such as chain and franchise stores are also covered by MEL CoC Standard.

Applications for a production stage certification and a CoC certification can be made collectively as necessary.


2.Production Stage Certification ( Fisheries)

*Fisheries Management Standard(FMS)ver.2.0

(1) Composition

Pursuant to the FAO Guidelines, the following three sets of requirements need to be met to obtain this type of certification.

・Requirements concerning the implementation of fisheries under an established management system

・Requirements concerning the maintenance of target resources at a sustainable level

・Requirements concerning appropriate ecosystem conservation measures


(2) Features

i) The certification is granted in consideration of a high degree of biodiversity and a wide variety of aquatic animals, and the high proportion of small-scale businesses using them.

ii) The certification is granted based on scientific evidence while giving consideration to the unique features of the Japanese fishing industry, in which local communities have historically and traditionally implemented comprehensive resource management encompassing mountainous forests, farmlands and rivers.

iii) The certification is granted in recognition of the mutual effectiveness of legal and administrative resource management programs and regional voluntary initiatives.


(3) Key Points of Note

i) Equally authentic documents should be created in the Japanese and English languages.

ii) Documents should be reviewed every five years and revised as necessary.

(Certifications are valid for five years. After a certification has been acquired, an audit and an examination for renewal will be performed annually and every five years, respectively.)

iii) Referenced standards should be clearly specified.

iv) Certifications will only be granted to Japanese businesses for the time being.


3.Production Stage Certification (Aquaculture)

*Aquaculture Management Standard(AMS)ver.1.0


4.Chain of Custody (CoC) Certification

*Chain of Custody Standard(CoC)ver.2.0

Producers of fishery products that have been granted a MEL production stage certification, namely, certified fishery products, are entitled to attach a MEL logomark to their products in order to enable consumers to recognize that they are certified fishery products produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Such producers need to acquire a distribution/processing stage (chain of custody: CoC) certification to prove that measures are taken to prevent their products from becoming mixed with non-MEL-certified products before they are displayed at stores, whether in a processed or unprocessed state, or before they are served at restaurants.


  • Composition

This certification is composed of the following four sets of requirements.

  1. Requirements concerning the applicant’s qualifications
  2. General requirements concerning the management system
  3. Requirements for establishing segregation and traceability
  4. Requirements concerning logomark management


  • Features
  1. The certification ensures that no fishery products other than the applicable certified products are contained or mixed in.
  2. The certification ensures that the certified businesses have a sufficient management system, under which a responsible manager is assigned and related documents are appropriately stored.


  • Types of Certifications

Distributors adopt different business formats, including independent single stores, group stores and franchise stores. Tailored to each of these formats, our Certification Standards are configured into different categories: Single-site and multiple-sites A, B and C.


5.Attachment of Labels and Usage Fee

*Regulations for the Use and Management of Logo

If certified seafood or seafood products satisfy their CoC certification criteria in every stage of distribution before they reach their final points of sale, the certified businesses are entitled to attach a separately specified MEL label to every unit of a sales or shipment batch.

Fixed usage fees determined in accordance with the scale of business will be charged for attaching the MEL labels to their products. However, MEL labels are available free of charge when used for promoting or advertising the MEL scheme. Costs for printing the labels will be borne by the certified party.