FAQs

How will the Responsible Fishing Scheme benefit me as a skipper?

The scheme enables skippers to demonstrate their seafood has been responsibly harvested, handled and preserved to industry-agreed best practice standards. The core principles of the scheme include health and safety, crew welfare and care for both the catch and the environment. Therefore the RFS is a positive tool for any vessel in promoting itself and its products to the market.

How will the Responsible Fishing Scheme benefit me as a seafood buyer?

The scheme enables buyers to be independently assured that their seafood has been responsibly harvested, handled, and preserved to industry-agreed best practice standards. The scheme is a tool for sourcing policy makers to demonstrate their supply chain’s compliance with new ethical and welfare laws introduced in the UK and EU.

How much will it cost?
The table below shows  the rates charged by our audit partners Acoura for each vessel category:

Vessel categories Year 1 & Year 3 – Vessel audit costs (+ VAT)

 

Year 2 – Surveillance audit* assessment costs (+VAT)
Over 10m £350 £170
Under 10m £150 £120
Single handed £150 £120
* Under normal circumstances this audit will not involve an auditor visiting the vessel. Members will be asked to submit documentary evidence to Acoura Marine. Any queries should be directed to Acoura Marine RFS Manager Seamus McKim on 0131 335 6613 or RFS@acoura.com

 

What are the RFS Compliance Support Guides?

The CSGs are a set of guides that underpin the standards and will assist the skipper in understanding key areas that will need to be complied with to achieve RFS certification. The guides have been designed to reflect good industry practice and ensure compliance with relevant national and international legislation.

What does the certification process involve?

To start the process, applicants must complete an RFS Application Pack that can be found on the How to join page of the RFS website. The Application Pack contains three parts, all of which must be completed before being returned to the Certification Body, Acoura Marine. An audit will then be arranged and, following any identified non-conformances being corrected, certification is confirmed and applicants are issued with a certificate confirming their membership.

RFS certificates are valid for two years but members must to undergo a surveillance audit after 12 months. In most cases this won’t need a vessel visit and will only require the member to submit documentary evidence to Acoura Marine. However, in certain circumstances Acoura Marine reserve the right to require an on vessel audit.

Before their certificate expires, members will be invited to renew their membership and have a further on-vessel audit. The process then repeats itself as described above.

What happens if the Skipper leaves the Vessel?

The unit of certification is both the vessel and the skipper as a partnership. If a vessel should change the skipper, or vice versa, then the certification will be suspended until the independent certification body – Acoura Marine – have audited the new partnership. This could be either an off-site or on-vessel audit depending on the circumstances.

Will there be a full social audit?

No, the RFS standard does not require a full social audit as it would be practically very difficult to assess vessel compliance in a consistent manner that would meet the requirements of ISO 17065 accreditation. However, the scheme is based upon the ILO c 188 Work in Fishing Convention and the key clauses within the crewed RFS standard commit the skipper to providing a working environment to meet the requirements of this convention and improve the living and working conditions for all the crew on their vessel. The RFS audit will review that the skipper has all the ethical and welfare policies in place and that suitable living conditions are available to the crew. To support the skipper, Compliance Support Guides have been produced, with the support of the UK catching sector, to give guidance on how they can comply with the requirements of the RFS standard.

The RFS does not currently have the capability to audit, or the legal authority to police, serious labour and human rights abuses at sea such as those identified in the 2016 ILO report Fishers first – Good practices to end labour exploitation at sea and EJF’ s 2015 report Pirates and Slaves; it is not a social audit and version 1 does not include crew interviews.

It is the intention of the RFS Oversight Board to work with other international organisations and with their expertise, to build our due diligence commitment and consider a more robust auditing model in subsequent versions of the RFS standard.

Future Governance

The Responsible Fishing Scheme is moving to a new home as part of a ground-breaking international initiative helping provide assurance to the whole seafood supply chain.

An agreement has been signed to migrate the RFS to the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s new Global Seafood Assurances programme. A transition period will commence on 1 May 2018 and conclude no later than 1 May 2020. Current members of the RFS will see no change in how their scheme is operated in the medium term and it is business as usual for the UK fleet joining the scheme.

What is happening, and why?  

As part of the agreement with Seafish, GAA will establish a not-for-profit Global Seafood Assurances programme, which will bring together a network of standards to ensure all aspects of the wild seafood supply chain are covered, with the RFS a key standard in this new suite.

During 2017, following a decision by the Seafish Board, Seafish launched a public procurement exercise to find a not-for-profit entity to operate, manage and deliver the RFS on a global scale, whilst maintaining the ethos of the robust standard that has been developed “by industry, for industry”, in conjunction with relevant NGOs. Tuesday’s announcement will enable the RFS to reach its full potential as part of this ground-breaking international initiative helping provide assurance to the whole seafood supply chain.

When will this new entity be up and running?

The transition period to migrate the management and oversight of the RFS to the GSA will commence on 1 May 2018 and conclude no later than 1 May 2020. During this transition phase, Seafish will retain responsibility for the ongoing management and delivery of the RFS in the UK, whilst Seafish and the GSA will work collaboratively to develop Version 2 of the RFS standard, to ensure compliance with ILO Work in Fishing Convention (ILO 188).

What does this mean for current RFS members?

Current members of the RFS will see no change in how their scheme is operated in the medium term and it is business as usual for the UK fleet joining the scheme. Our focus over the transition period is to continue to support current RFS members in the UK and to encourage even more vessels across the UK fleet to join this landmark scheme. Acoura, part of the Lloyd’s Register group, will continue to act as scheme’s Certification Body.

How will Seafish continue to be involved in the RFS after the transition period?

To maintain the ethos of the RFS standard moving forward, Seafish will hold a seat on the GSA board. Following transition, Seafish will also have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing development of the standard through its membership of the GSA’s vessel standard Technical Advisory Board.