Frequently Asked Questions
Here you can find all the answers you need to navigating and using the RASS tool.
Why are social welfare measures not included?
Phase I of RASS focuses on environmental factors and Phase II will expand RASS to include social welfare measures. These measures are yet to be finalized and we would welcome input.
Is this database aimed at consumers?
RASS is primarily intended for commercial buyers of seafood but will be accessible by everyone. However, the utility of RASS for consumers is unlikely to be high.
How does the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) relate to this tool?
In the future we will be expanding RASS to include an ‘ethical’ dimension. There may be opportunities to align the RFS will these metrics to enable RFS accredited vessels to score more favourably.
How can I use this information?
There are two ways you can use the information in RASS. Firstly, if you have an in-house policy for purchasing seafood you can directly use the evidence we have utilised to generate our risk scores to determine whether you wish to source a particular seafood item. Alternatively if you do not have an internal policy or similar you can utilise our risk scores as a means of assisting your decision making. We do not make any recommendations on whether a fishery is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘too risky’ – that is up to you and your own preferences.
How accurate are your assessments?
Our assessments try to be as accurate as possible but we welcome all feedback. If we have missed any data sources we will gladly make amendments and update as necessary.
Why has Seafish developed this tool?
In our 2012-15 Corporate Plan Seafish was tasked with developing a robust database to provide objective, scientifically derived environmental information on fish stocks to enable buyers to make informed choices when buying seafood. RASS is our database.
Why is there no farmed fish on this website?
RASS is currently limited to wild-seafood. We have considered including regional aquaculture profiles but feedback from users suggested this was not granular enough for their needs. We are unable to assess individual farms due to a lack of resources so instead we propose to utilize the results of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) project when completed.
What do we mean by "risk"?
In scientific circles “risk” is most often defined as the likelihood x consequence of an undesirable event occurring and can often be defined quantitatively through statistical models (i.e. the likelihood of an extreme weather occurring). Whilst you can take this approach for some fisheries too, for the vast majority of fisheries there is insufficient information to make quantitative risk analyses. This is the niche that RASS is trying to fill. When we talk about risk in RASS we do so in the context of risk to a buyers reputation if they decide to source from a particular fishery. To do this we assume that for each of the four components we are “risk-assessing” that the following situations are risky to buyers:
- Stock status – stock is below levels required to produce Maximum Sustainable Yields
- Management – there are inadequate rules/ enforcement in place to protect the stock from overharvesting (by far the most contentious area to assess)
- Bycatch –the gear catches non-target species
- Habitat –the gear impacts the seafloor
Does a low risk score mean a fishery is sustainable?
There are different accepted definitions of what makes a fishery sustainable or unsustainable. The purpose of RASS is to provide information for users to make informed decisions about their seafood purchasing based on their own policies or views.
How are risk scores derived?
Our scores are based on the method in the scoring guidance.