GSSI global benchmark tool makes its debut

The Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) released its new Global Benchmark Tool for seafood certification schemes today during the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries event being held in Vigo, Spain.

The global tool seeks to provide clarity on seafood certification schemes worldwide in a collective and non-competitive fashion, said GSSI. Those who utilize the new tool will be able to make better informed purchasing decisions and stay up-to-date on the status of existing practices/trends in seafood certification. Seafood certification schemes that align with the GSSI Components grounded in the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the FAO Guidelines for seafood certification and ecolabeling will be rewarded and recognized by the initiative.

Ultimately, the Benchmark Tool will help to ensure “that consumers can be confident in the certified seafood on offer,” said GSSI. The seafood certification schemes that sign up to be benchmarked through the tool will be subjected to the following Benchmark Process:

  1. Application: Schemes interested in applying for GSSI recognition contact the GSSI Secretariat.
  2. Desktop Review: Independent Experts review application and provided evidence.
  3. Office Visit: Independent Experts visit the scheme’s office to review evidence and complete the interim Benchmark Report.
  4. Benchmark Committee Meeting: Benchmark Committee evaluates the interim Benchmark Report.
  5. Public Consultation: Benchmark Report and the Benchmark Committee’s recommendation for recognition go to public consultation
  6. Recognition Decision by GSSI Steering Board: Steering Board makes a decision on GSSI Recognition of the scheme based on the final recommendation of the Benchmark Committee.
  7. Monitoring of Continued Alignment: Recognized schemes annually report relevant changes to GSSI, in combination with regular reassessments through GSSI.

Certification schemes will also be assessed against the Benchmark Framework, which includes GSSI Essential Components and GSSI Supplementary Components. The former is what a seafood certification scheme must meet for recognition while the latter allows for schemes “to show their diverse approach and help stakeholders understand where differences lie.”

Schemes that use the tool successfully will receive a statement of GSSI Recognition and a Benchmark Report.

This Benchmark Tool helps to create a level playing field, according to the FAO: “The FAO is a committed partner to GSSI and supports the development of a common benchmark for seafood certification schemes to create a level playing field.”

“[GSSI Partners] are committed to including the outcomes of the GSSI Benchmark Tool in daily operations, and look forward to the first seafood certification schemes signing up to be benchmarked,” said GSSI. GSSI partner companies, NGOs, experts, governmental organizations and FAO were all involved in the crafting of the tool. 

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