The RFM Fisheries Standard focuses on 4 Key Principles for evaluating fisheries:
- The Fisheries Management System
- Science and Stock Assessment Activities and the Precautionary Approach
- Management Measures, Implementation, Monitoring and Control
- Serious Impacts of the Fishery on the Ecosystem
The certification process uses 125 clauses and subclauses spread amongst the four principles. The clauses are scored according to conformance levels.
Once a fishery is certified to the RFM Fisheries Standard the certificate lasts five years. Each certified fishery enters annual surveillance audits for continuing certification. Re-certification occurs after a period of five years. More information on the assessment process can be found here.
RFM Fisheries Standard Scope:
To establish and maintain a program that provides for independent third party certification of Responsible Fisheries Management, including enhancement practices (but excluding full cycle aquaculture), up to the point of landing, with the main objective being the biological sustainability of the “stock under consideration”, with consideration for conservation, biodiversity and ecosystem integrity; and due regard to social responsibility and the economic viability of the fishery.
The RFM Fisheries Standard sets out the requirements that must be achieved by North American fisheries operating within the U.S and Canadian 200nm EEZ for Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification. All well managed North American fisheries are eligible to apply for the RFM Program. The RFM Program has developed a specific Data Deficient tool for fisheries when relevant.
Chain of Custody:
If a company buys seafood from a certified fishery and wishes to make the certified claim or uses the RFM logo, Chain of Custody certification is required. Every organization that takes ownership of the certified seafood, from the point of first handling after the seafood has been landed, until it is processed into the final consumer product, will need to be certified to the Chain of Custody Standard. Companies that have Chain of Custody certification can make certification claims on their products, POS materials and/or website. It gives confidence to all buyers of the seafood that it can be traced back through the supply chain to the fishery that was certified as part of the Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Program.
The Chain of Custody standard program will verify that participating seafood handlers can demonstrate effective traceability and have systems in place to ensure that the certified seafood product is not mixed with non-certified seafood. The onsite assessment shall include:
a) An open meeting; to confirm the scope of the applicant’s assessment;
b) A review the traceability and quality management systems and assessment of their implementation;
c) An inspection of the production facility to verify implementation of the traceability systems;
d) Interviews of personnel responsible for oversight and operation of the traceability and quality management systems;
e) A review of the production facility inspection to verify compliance of the reviewed systems with the requirements of the RFM CoC Standard and to determine whether further documentation and verification is needed;
f) A final review of findings in preparation for the closing meeting; and
g) A closing meeting to discuss compliance with the RFM CoC Standard.
Certificates are valid for three years with annual surveillance. On-going certification is maintained as long as there is sufficient evidence that the applicant remains in compliance with the criteria of the Standard.
RFM Logo Use:
The RFM Logo is available for those who satisfy the Chain of Custody requirements, and would like to demonstrate traceability and make a certification claim. In contrast to other sustainable seafood certification programs, there is no logo licensing fee for using the RFM logo. Learn more here.
For a current list of companies who are accredited to certify to the RFM Fisheries and Chain of Custody standards please visit:
Fisheries Certification Bodies: https://rfmcertification.org/fisheries-standard/auditor-contact-list/
Chain of Custody Certification Bodies: https://rfmcertification.org/chain-of-custody/coc-certification-bodies/