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 RFS is being piloted around the world, and the procurement process to find a new entity to run the scheme is now underway.
In line with recommendations by the RFS Oversight Board and Seafish Board in March this year, an International Working Group, overseen by Seafish, is now fully funding and managing a number of pilots in fisheries that are diverse in terms of their geographical location, species and gear type.
Although participation in the pilots will not result in certification of the international vessels involved, it will provide valuable feedback on the current RFS Standard, particularly on how the audit methodology could be strengthened to better capture ‘crew voice’. These pilots will be completed by the end of 2017.
In tandem with piloting the scheme outside of the UK, Seafish is undertaking a public procurement process to engage a not-for-profit entity to run, manage and govern the RFS from 2018 onwards. Seafish will remain as the RFS standard holder to ensure the ethos behind the scheme is maintained.
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.
FAQs on the future of the RFS
Why is Seafish looking for a new entity to run the RFS?
Facilitating the industry-led development of the Responsible Fishing Scheme was a key commitment of Seafish’s current Corporate Plan (2015 – 18), and our focus during 2017/18 is ensuring the scheme is robust while being as accessible as possible for the UK fleet.
The Seafish Board concluded that the best way forward for the scheme, beyond the current Corporate Plan, is to establish a stand-alone, not-for-profit organisation to operate the RFS in the UK and internationally.
The Seafish Board is keen that the original philosophy of the scheme will be maintained and that the new body is fit for purpose and can operate effectively both at a UK and global level. As a result, Seafish will remain as standard holder to ensure the original ethos is maintained.
When will this new entity be up and running?
Seafish is undertaking a public procurement process to award the contract. As a public body, Seafish is bound by public procurement rules and regulations, so a clear scoring and award process will be followed. The contract will be awarded to the successful organisation by the end of 2017.
A transition plan will be developed between Seafish and the new organisation once it is appointed. Together our objective will be to ensure any handover is as smooth as possible and RFS and stakeholders will be kept fully informed. While a transition plan is being developed, Seafish will continue to deliver our objectives set out in the 2015-2018 Corporate Plan.
How will the new entity be funded?
The new RFS entity will not be funded by Seafish. The new entity will be self-funded, and as part of the procurement process we are stipulating that the new entity should be a not for profit organisation to ensure costs are not increased for profit purposes.
What does this mean for current RFS members?
The development of a long-term strategy for the RFS should assure current members that Seafish is securing a sustainable future for the scheme on behalf of the UK industry. Current members of RFS will see no change in how their scheme is operated, and 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.
FAQs on International Pilots
When will international roll-out of the RFS begin?
The RFS is currently only open to UK registered vessels, but the scheme is now being piloted around the world. An International Working Group, overseen by Seafish, is fully funding and managing a number of pilots in fisheries that are diverse in terms of their geographical location, species and gear type. International roll out will begin during 2018, overseen by the new entity.
How many international pilots are there, and who is paying for them?
There are 12 pilots in total, which are all fully funded by members of the International Working Group. The pilots are running in the USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Norway, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Russia and the Barents Sea. The pilots will be completed by the end of 2017.
Although these pilots will not result in certification of the international vessels involved, they will provide valuable feedback on the current RFS Standard, particularly on how the audit methodology could be strengthened to better capture ‘crew voice’.