What is the RFS?

The Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) is a voluntary vessel-based programme certifying high standards of crew welfare and responsible catching practices on board fishing vessels. It was developed to raise standards in the catching sector, enabling those within the seafood supply chain to demonstrate their commitment to the responsible sourcing of seafood.

Launched by Seafish in 2016, the RFS is currently open to all types of UK commercial fishing vessels. The Scheme demonstrates that a vessel and its skipper are operating to best practice in five core areas:

  • Safety, health and welfare
  • Training and professional development
  • The vessel and its mission
  • Care of the catch
  • Care for the environment.

The RFS is a ‘business- to-business’ tool that helps fishermen showcase best practice through third-party auditing by the Scheme’s independent certification body, Lloyd’s Register (formerly Acoura). Some of the biggest names in retail, processing and food service supply have committed to incorporating RFS certification into their sourcing policies.

RFS Infographic

Developing the RFS

The RFS has a robust governance structure in place, led by the RFS Oversight Board which oversees the strategic direction and objectives of the Scheme.

In 2018, an agreement was signed to migrate the RFS to the new, not for profit, Global Seafood Assurances (GSA). GSA has been established to bring together a network of standards, filling gaps where necessary, to ensure that all aspects of the wild seafood supply chain are covered. This move will allow the RFS to expand internationally and reach its full potential, helping to provide assurance to the whole seafood supply chain.

The two organisations are working together to develop the next iteration of the RFS - the Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS) - which will build on the strong foundations established by the RFS to create a globally applicable standard able to provide assurance of decent working conditions and operational best practice on board fishing vessels, from the catch to the quay.

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