The Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS), which was developed by Seafish in 2006 to reward responsible fishing practises on vessels, is being revised to ensure it remains fit for purpose and helps the seafood industry work towards a more transparent and ethical supply chain.
The modification of the current RFS standard has been developed in line with ISO 17065 accreditation requirements that will give the certification programme for these revised RFS standards additional transparency and credibility.
Seafish has now launched a period of public consultation, which ends on 25 September, for the wider industry to ensure there is agreement prior to the standards proceeding to gain full ISO 17065 Accreditation.
Tom Pickerell, Technical Director at Seafish, said: “The revised Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme will be the only independently audited global certification scheme for vessels and, as such, is one of the few ways that seafood buyers can be assured they are sourcing from ethical and responsible boats. The global nature of the seafood supply chain means there can be many touch points for the product and it is vital that we promote and reward the responsible vessels that supply the UK market.”
Mike Platt, Director of RS Standards who is overseeing the revision of the RFS standards, said: “Our experience tells us that standards developed with industry and key stakeholder feedback work better for them and the public consultation is an important part of the process. These views will provide good evidence when the new RFS standards are submitted for full ISO 17065 accreditation.”
The process began with a multi-stakeholder Oversight Board, comprising all sectors of the UK fishing industry from the point of capture to the point of consumption, who agreed on the key areas for the RFS standards and how they could be used to enhance the long term vitality of the UK fishing industry.
Since February 2014, three technical Work Groups made up of respected industry experts, have been working to develop the new standards, with each of the three work groups focusing on their core area of expertise. Two standards – one for multiple crew vessels and one for single handed vessels – have been drafted and approved by the Oversight Board.
As well as the public consultation, Seafish has also issued a tender for a Certification Body to build an ISO 17065 compliant certification programme to certify vessel applicants when the new scheme launches officially in June 2015. Following the conclusion of the public consultation, the RFS Oversight Board will agree the final RFS standards that the appointed Certification Body will use to gain ISO 17065 accreditation.
Full details on the public consultation including the draft standards are available from the Seafish website.