Introducing the Responsible Fishing Scheme

23 April, 2015
Martin Gill

Martin Gill, MD of Acoura Marine, previously Food Certification International, talks about his role and the group's involvement with the Responsible Fishing Scheme. 

What do you do?

I'm responsible for running Acoura's Marine division; this covers all aquaculture and commercial fishing related inspections and certification services, both in the UK and Internationally.

Approximately 98% of Scottish Farmed Salmon in the UK is certified by Acoura Marine, to one standard or another, this probably equates to around 130,000 tonnes per year, and we also work with the farmed trout sector and the rope grown mussel sector in the UK. One of our focus points going forward is to look internationally, and already we work in Denmark, Holland, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Turkey, Russia, Scandinavia, Iceland, Faroes, South America, S.E. Asia and Australia. The Spanish-speaking world is the next important target market for us - Central and South America.

Acoura Marine have worked in the commercial fishing sector since 2007, specifically on the MSC Sustainable Fishing Scheme and the MSC Chain of Custody scheme, and are delighted to have been appointed by the Seafish Industry Authority as the certification body for the Responsible Fishing Scheme.

What is the Responsible Fishing Scheme?

Acoura Marne have been awarded the contract to deliver the independent inspection and certification for participants in the Responsible Fishing Scheme, a standard owned by Seafish.

The scheme did exist previously, but has over the last year undergone a thorough review and will be re-launched in the summer of 2015 as an accredited Standard.

A quick guide to the Responsible Fishing Scheme is as below:

The Scheme is open to all UK registered fishing vessels and skippers, and will offer two standards, one for crewed vessels and one for single handed vessels.

The standards are based round five main criteria:

  • safety, health and welfare of the crew
  • training & professional development of crew
  • the vessel and its mission
  • care of the environment
  • care of the catch, making sure it is landed as freshly as possible

What benefits will the Responsible Fishing Scheme bring?

The new RFS will be independently audited against the international accreditation criteria of ISO17065 providing a transparent, robust and credible endorsement of seafood sourced from RFS vessels.

Best practice on board a commercial fishing vessel is currently not covered by any other accredited standard.

While quotas and the MSC standard etc. cover the sustainability of fish caught, the RFS will look at certifying best practice on board fishing vessels,, looking at how the vessel is run and managed in a responsible and safe way.

We’ve already seen lots of interest in the RFS from major wholesalers and retailers, who see the scheme as complementary to their corporate responsibility policy, and as a point of difference, which would be popular among end users.

How do I join the Responsible Fishing Scheme?

The RFS is currently undergoing vessel trial audits, to ensure that all parts of the audit function as they should. All our auditors will have experience in the commercial fishing industry, as well as being fully-trained in the requirements of the standard.

It is a scheme that will involve an initial preparation phase while skippers and vessels ensure they have the systems and evidence in place before progressing to an initial on vessel audit by an Acoura Marine inspector. Successful vessels will be approved and issued with a certificate of compliance.

For more information on the Responsible Fishing Scheme, CLICK HERE, or contact Acoura Marine on 0330 024 0255, 

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