UK - Ethics was a big topic at this year's World Seafood Congress. Addressing the social challenges we face in the seafood supply chain, Seafish's Libby Woodhatch and Tom Pickerell, explained how the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) is the only standard auditing compliance of fishing vessels to health, safety and welfare, writes Lucy Towers.
As more accounts of illegal or mistreated workforces in the seafood industry surface, it is important that buyers can assure that their fish supply is coming from ethically responsible vessels.
Aimed at Business to Business, the RFS is designed to run alongside other standards and can be tailored to both big and small boats.
With a focus on welfare, Ms Woodhatch, Head of Advocacy at Seafish, explained that the RFS looks at life on board for the crew or the fisherman, the entitlement to work, human rights and crew discrimination.
There is also an improver programme, providing assistance with training and professional development.
Launched in April 2015, the RFS has already certified three vessels and has another 20 in the auditing process.
Whilst the origional RFS was designed just for the UK, the new version is international.
Speaking about where the RFS is headed in the future, Mr Pickerell, Technical Director, Seafish, explained that as well as the phenomenal response from the global fishing industry, the aquaculture feed industry has also shown interest.
Seafish is also running a pilot project with the Marine Stewardship Council to see the UK's first vessels certified to both the MSC and RFS.
As well as this work with MSC, Seafish is also looking to develop a RFS Chain of Custody standard with by 2016.
For more information on the Responsible Fishing Scheme, please visit http://www.seafish.org/rfs/