Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS) — Seafish

Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS)

Global Seafood Assurances (GSA)
The Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS) is a voluntary vessel based programme.

The RFVS is a fishing vessel-based program certifying high standards of vessels management and safety systems including crew rights, safety and well being. It is the only vessel level certification program available on a global scale.

  • In January 2016 the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) was launched to facilitate the market demand for independent due diligence audits of fishing vessels. RFS Version 1 provided supply chain assurance of best practice on-board a fishing vessel, with a requirement for documented evidence regarding crew welfare, safety practices and employment contracts.
  • In October 2017 the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) certified its 100th vessel, marking a significant milestone for the scheme.
  • In April 2018 Seafish announced moving the Responsible Fishing Scheme to a new home as Seafish signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA). Following extensive discussions between the parties, an MoU was signed that outlined a transition period to migrate the Seafish RFS to the GAA’s newly established Global Seafood Assurances (GSA) programme. The period commenced on 1 May 2018 and concluded on 11 June 2020. As part of the agreement with Seafish, GAA  established the not-for-profit GSA Programme, to 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 the transition phase, Seafish retained responsibility for the ongoing management and delivery of the RFS in the UK.

Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS)

  • On 11 June 2020 the final Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS) was publicly shared and officially handed over from Seafish to Global Seafood Assurances, following a two-year, open and collaborative development process.
  • The Standard is the next iteration of Seafish’s Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS). It was revised to reflect the seafood industry’s needs as part of a ground-breaking global supply chain assurance initiative. Now owned and operated by GSA, the RFVS is a voluntary, vessel-based certification standard. It enables commercial fishing operations to provide assurance of decent working conditions and operational best practice through independent, third-party auditing.
  • The revised Standard is comprised of two core principles – vessel management and safety systems; and crew rights, safety and wellbeing. Its strong focus on crew welfare on board fishing vessels is underpinned by Work in Fishing Convention ILOc188 and other global conventions. The key objective of the RFVS is to enable fishing vessel operations to provide third party assurance of decent working conditions for the crew by demonstrating operational best practice from the catch to the quay, in line with internationally agreed protocols and guidelines. The RFVS has a greater focus on crew welfare and will be underpinned by two core principles: Vessel Management and Safety Systems, and Crew Rights, Safety and Wellbeing

Significance for seafood businesses: 

A seafood-specific standard. Sourcing seafood that is accredited to a standard that has a social component provides reassurance that the seafood you are purchasing has been independently verified concerning social issues.

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