The aim is for all fishing boats supplying M&S to be certified by the RFS by 2021, or be actively engaged in a time bound plan to achieve RFS certification. This applies worldwide, however UK boats will be required to gain the certificate or be actively engaged by the end of 2017.
Andy Adcock, Director of Food at Marks & Spencer, said: “We’re passionate about being a responsible retailer. We only buy fish from the most sustainable sources, a commitment we’ve worked tirelessly on for almost 20 years, and this pledge means our customers can shop with us knowing we’ve done everything possible to protect the marine environment and those working in our fish supply chain.”
The Seafish RFS scheme is the only scheme of its kind in the industry. It provides tangible evidence that the seafood caught by a fishing boat has been responsibly caught and handled and the boat has the highest standards on crew welfare, fair pay, health and safety and human rights.
Tom Pickerell, Technical Director at Seafish, said: “The commitment from M&S is another huge boost for RFS and it further marks the intent of the UK seafood industry to be recognised worldwide for its work on reducing social and welfare issues.
“There is a collective call for seafood to be socially responsible as well as environmentally sustainable and as a result we are working with fishermen at the heart of that supply chain to demonstrate adherence to best practice in crew welfare.”
RFS is a voluntary scheme and both the fishing boat and the training and welfare of its crew must meet RFS standards for a vessel to be certified. Once the boat owner and its skipper have applied for certification they are audited by an independent certification body.
Boats and their skipper(s) have to demonstrate best practice in five areas –
- Safety, health and welfare;
- Training and professional development;
- The vessel and its mission (ensuring all legislation and voluntary agreements that apply to its fishing area, catch and gear type are followed);
- Care of the catch (including provenance, traceability and high hygiene standards);
- Care for the environment (including management of litter).
Anyone looking to find out more about RFS should visit the Seafish website – http://www.seafish.org/rfs/.