Revisions to the structure of the core principles of the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) have been outlined in proposals for Version 2 in order to streamline the scheme and strengthen the focus on crew welfare and vessel operation.
The proposals have been published today by Seafish, the public body that supports the £10bn UK seafood industry, and Global Seafood Assurances (GSA), a not-for-profit organisation seeking to offer full supply chain assurance for wild and farmed seafood.
The organisations are currently working in partnership to develop Version 2 of the RFS, which will enable fishing operations to provide assurance of decent working conditions and operational best practice from the catch to the quay.
Following extensive consultation, Seafish and GSA have collaboratively developed the Terms of Reference (ToR), which set out the objectives, structure and scope for the new version of the Scheme.
Other changes proposed include an updated RFS certification model to enable greater accessibility, maximising the opportunity to scale up participation via a Group Certification Model and ensuring Version 2 can be internationalised. The organisations are now inviting additional industry feedback.
The RFS was developed by Seafish to recognise good practice and to raise standards in the catching sector, enabling those within the seafood supply chain to better demonstrate their commitment to the responsible sourcing of seafood. The current RFS (Version 1) has over 120 vessels certified, contributing 32% of the UK fleet’s landings by weight, 26% of landings by value and representing approximately 17% of the UK’s total registered tonnage*.
Helen Duggan, Head of RFS Transition at Seafish said:
“One of Seafish's primary aims is to ensure a sustainable future for the UK seafood industry. To this end, we are committed to facilitating responsible sourcing throughout the supply chain. The development of RFS Version 2 represents a key opportunity for the UK industry to continue to lead the way globally in responsible catching and ethical welfare practices. We would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to engage with the development process, and we welcome feedback on the direction proposed.”
Work is well underway on the development of RFS Version 2, which will update the Standard to ensure that it is fit for purpose and meets assurance needs. Through a process of active outreach, the RFS Development Team have received and collated feedback from across the UK seafood sector to guide the development process. This has included capturing opinions from over 70 stakeholders representing a variety of viewpoints from fishers to policy makers, seafood buyers and NGOs within the UK and beyond.
Melanie Siggs, European Director for GSA said:
“Mike Platt has led GSA’s work with Seafish and we are delighted with the progress and participation to date. The ToR is an important milestone in the development of RFS Version 2 ahead of us taking over the Standard in May 2020. There is considerable enthusiasm to ensure that the new Standard will demonstrate certified vessels are operating in line with best practice, be that in the UK or overseas."
A bespoke Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is now being formed with membership comprised of individuals with the skills and expertise required to develop the Standard criteria for each agreed core principle within RFS Version 2.
For further information, provide feedback on the Terms or to express an interest in joining the Technical Advisory Committee, please contact Helen Duggan, Head of RFS Transition at Seafish on Helen.Duggan@seafish.co.uk or 01472 252 347.
*Data based on 2017 landings of RFS certified vessels as of 15 August 2018; includes landings by vessels prior to joining the Scheme. (Please note: this article was updated on 14 February to correct an error in the wording of the above statistic).