Public consultation opens for global fishing vessel standard RFS

Published on
August 16, 2019

The seafood industry is being called upon to provide feedback on the draft standard criteria for the next iteration of the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS), to be called the “Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS),” following the launch of a 60-day public consultation.

RFVS standard criteria have been released by U.K. public body Seafish and not-for-profit organization Global Seafood Assurances (GSA). Together, they are working to develop the RFVS, which will build on the foundations established by the RFS to create a globally applicable standard that provides assurances regarding decent working conditions and operational best-practice onboard fishing vessels.

The overarching goals of the development process are to create a standard which:

  • Continues to meet the U.K. seafood sector supply chain assurance requirements, both for products sourced within the UK and beyond
  • Is capable of meeting international supply chain assurance requirements
  • Is internationally credible, third-party assessed and has a certification model aligned to the requirements of ISO 17065
  • Has the ability to deliver a streamlined certification process

Based on the consultation feedback, and referencing internationally agreed protocols and guidelines, the draft standard criteria have been developed by technical working groups, composed of industry representatives, NGOs, standard holders and experts from all sectors of the fishing industry and seafood supply chain from around the world. 

The process also incorporated feedback received from nominated peer reviewers and current RFS certificate holders within the U.K. catching sector. 

“We’re keen to ensure that the Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard is fit for purpose and meets market needs. To achieve this, we’re employing a robust, collaborative and interactive process to develop the draft standard criteria, mirroring best practice in international standard development,” said Helen Duggan, head of RFS transition at Seafish. “We are now asking stakeholders from across the industry to respond to the 60-day public consultation and take this opportunity to provide their feedback on the draft standard. The public consultation also presents a fantastic opportunity for current RFS members to have their say, and we’ll be reaching out to them directly to ask for their invaluable feedback.” 

The public consultation will close on 14 October 2019. All comments submitted during the consultation period must be made via the official feedback process – by returning a completed public comment form, available on Seafish’s website.

The final draft of the RFVS is expected to be released in spring 2020. 

“We are thrilled to have arrived at this important milestone and share the extensive work of the Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard development process thus far,” GSA European Director Melanie Siggs said. “This is a critically important standard which, using global best practice guidelines and extensive consultation, addresses social issues, human rights and operational practice on board fishing vessels catching our seafood. It will enable those in responsible supply chains to demonstrate the vessels catching their seafood take care of their crews and vessel operations. This can add to their assurance of environmental best practice in fisheries. Over time, we will learn more and more about how to embed such best practice as the norm.” 

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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