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Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard sets course for best practice as Seafish passes baton to Global Seafood Assurances

11 June 2020  |  Responsible Sourcing
The final Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS) has been publicly shared for the first time today. It was officially handed over from Seafish to Global Seafood Assurances, following a two-year, open and collaborative development process.

Global Seafood Assurances (GSA), a not-for-profit organisation seeking to offer full supply chain assurance for seafood and Seafish, the public body that supports the £10bn UK seafood industry, worked in partnership to develop the RFVS. 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.

Melanie Siggs, Europe and Board Director for GSA said: “It is now recognised that assurance of good crew welfare on fishing vessels is critically important and inseparable from good environmental management.”

“It has been a really exciting two years working with Seafish to evolve the RFS into the new, globally-applicable, Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard. Assurance of crew welfare on fishing vessels has been missing in seafood supply chain assurance, and the RFVS enables us to fill this assurance gap. Through RFVS certification, we can celebrate those working to best practice and also help drive improvement.”

Aoife Martin, Director of Operations for Seafish said: “We are delighted to mark the release of the RFVS, the culmination of a two-year collaborative development process and a significant milestone in the certification of fishing best practice. This release also coincides with Seafish formally transferring ownership of the Standard to GSA, a move that will enable the RFVS to reach its potential as a global assurance model for fishing vessels.

“I would like to thank the RFS Oversight Board members for their guidance and strategic direction since the RFS was first established in 2016, but particularly for their support during the RFVS development process. Seafish would also like to thank the Technical Working Group members and existing members of the UK RFS who have contributed time and expertise to test the new Standard to make sure it continues to meet the needs of the seafood supply chain”.

The RFVS was developed using a robust standard development process with input from all sectors of the global seafood industry: catching, processing, retail, standard holder and non-governmental organisations. A fully transparent engagement process was launched in July 2018 and included two open consultation phases. The process was overseen by an independent Oversight Board and supported by Technical Working Groups comprising of over 30 international seafood stakeholders.

In 2018, the proposed Standard was tested on vessels around the world including in Russia, Peru, the Faroe Islands and the UK. A set of vessel certification pilots will be carried out over the next few months in order to refine the proposed RFVS Certification Model. The first auditors for the RFVS have received training and a full auditor training programme is being developed. The RFVS will open for applications once the vessel certification pilots have been completed.

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