The RFS is the only scheme that certifies high standards of crew welfare and responsible catching practices on board fishing vessels. The scheme is currently only open to UK registered vessels. The Seafish Board, as the RFS Standard Holder, has confirmed its goal to make the RFS a globally recognised third party verification scheme with a focus on socially responsible fishing. The Seafish Board and Executive team are now developing a clear road map for the RFS on an international stage. 

In making this decision, the Seafish Board wholly supported the recommendations of the RFS Oversight Board which had been agreed at a meeting held in February 2017. The RFS Oversight Board is made up of representatives of the whole UK seafood supply chain including the catching, processing, food service and retail sectors as well as experts from fishermen’s safety and environmental and ethical NGOs.  

The Seafish Board has agreed that international pilots should be undertaken, which will operate within a defined framework and act as demonstrator projects to highlight the benefits, challenges or otherwise of the scheme’s current five core principles outside of UK. A fully representative International Working Group will be the vehicle for funding and running the pilots; this work will respect the governance of the Scheme in its current format and will operate within a clearly defined framework.

While work to progress the international pilots will now pick up pace, it is key to remember that it is business as usual for the UK fleet joining the scheme. Seafish will continue to roll out the RFS in its current form in the UK, promoting its new support materials and a simplified application process. The RFS Oversight Board’s Technical Committee will continue to review the current RFS processes through industry feedback, to ensure the UK roll out is as smooth as possible for the domestic fleet.