First vessel attains GSA’s Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard

The Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Global Seafood Assurances (GSA) venture – launched in 2018 – has had its first vessel reach its Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS).

The Antarctic Discovery, which belongs to Australian Longline Fishing, is a longliner operating in a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified fishery for Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish. The vessel, which is 56-meters long and carries a crew of between 20 to 25 people – plus two observers – was awarded the RFVS certificate by Lloyds Register, the GSA announced.

“We were very keen to get independent, credible, certification that we recruit and care for our crews in accordance with global conventions,” Australian Longline Fishing Managing Director Malcolm McNeill said. “Our customers need that assurance. Now we can demonstrate that we are caring for both the fish and the people who harvest them, and we all feel good about that.”

The process required careful discussion in order to prepare for the audits and crew interviews while simultaneously preparing for the Antarctic Discovery’s next trip, Vessel Coordinator Marty Johnson said. The vessel, according to GSA, often heads into “challenging waters,” sometimes for months at a time.

“Spending time discussing what we needed to prepare, with Global Seafood Assurance and with Lloyds Register, helped make sure we used audit time efficiently. We needed to sharpen up in a few areas, but that was a useful exercise in itself,” Johnson said. “We plan to have a second vessel audited in a few months and will be even better prepared.”

GSA said that the nonprofit currently has 12 audit pilots underway, covering “very different types of vessels, operations and locations around the world from Russia to the Philippines, Africa to the U.K.”

The RFVS was developed by the GSA through a two-year process to enable fishing operations to provide audited assurance of decent working conditions for workers and operational best practices from “catch to shore.” Ownership of the standard was transferred from Seafish to GSA on 11 June, 2020, and is an iteration of Seafish’s Responsible Fishing Scheme.

An MSC-certified vessel being the first to achieve the new standard is a credit to both the crews aboard the vessel and the MSC standard, MSC CEO Rupert Howes said.

“That vessels already participating in the MSC program, are part of the first wave to undergo RFVS audits, is a huge credit to their skippers and crews and testament to the fact that many of our partners set the benchmark for best practice across the global fishing industry,” Howes said in a release. “Whilst the MSC standard is focused on environmental criteria, we have long recognized the industry-wide importance of strengthening workers’ protection and welfare at sea. MSC participated in the development process for the RFVS, and very much welcome this and other initiatives which seek to verify and improve labor conditions and crew welfare at the vessel level through independent verification processes.”

Photo courtesy of Global Seafood Assurances  


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