Guide to seafood standards

In recent years, there has been a strong movement to encourage seafood suppliers to demonstrate responsible sourcing through certification standards.

Certification can be a very valid means of adding confidence to purchase (both for consumers and industry) although the proliferation of schemes - with its plethora of certifiers and associated labels - can also lead to confusion.

Certification standards can deal with environment, social, food safety and animal welfare considerations, and there are separate standards for wild capture seafood and fish farming. They provide a means of measuring performance against a set criteria, although as yet there is no statutory requirement for equivalence and each covers slightly different criteria. There is some overlap, but ultimately each standard is seeking a different competitive edge.

The purpose of this Guide is to provide understanding of how different standards compare. We indicate what criteria are covered and complied with; the auditing process used and who owns and implements each standard.

It should be made clear that this Guide does not provide a critique. Rather it is a means to compare and contrast different seafood certification standards, with clear signposting to further sources of information. Please also note that the description of each standard is based upon information provided by each standard owner and is correct as of the date indicated on each standards page.

For a benchmark on seafood certification schemes see the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI). This is a global partnership that has established by the seafood industry, governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to build confidence in certified seafood. Seafish has produced a briefing note on GSSI which summarises the background and acheivements of GSSI to March 2017. See

We hope you find this resource useful.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

About the standards

All the seafood standards featured in these pages have been used for fish or shellfish supplied in the UK.

Interactive guide

Our guide to seafood standards can help you to understand exactly what seafood labels mean for safety, sustainability and welfare in the industry.


Certification standards vary in the factors (or 'issues') they cover.


The seafood standards featured in this guide are all relevant to fish and shellfish products on sale within the UK.


A reputable standard will be designed using one or more internationally-accepted codes or protocols. These help to define and measure the credibility of a particular standard and the way it operates.

Accreditation and certification

In these pages we consider the mechanisms which underpin and give credibility to certification standards.