Waitrose has cemented its commitment to responsibly sourced seafood with the announcement that British fishing vessels supplying its seafood will need to become part of a scheme that certifies best practice on fishing vessels by 2017.
The Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) is the only programme certifying crew welfare as well as responsible catching practices on vessels.
First launched in 2006 by Seafish, it has been revised to include health and safety of crew on board, following slavery issues that have been reported internationally.
Waitrose made the announcement at the official launch of RFS in London. The retailer has identified RFS as a key component for Waitrose to demonstrate its commitment to social responsibility within its supply chains.
The scheme has been developed to raise standards in the catching sector, enabling those within the seafood supply chain to demonstrate their commitment to the responsible sourcing of seafood.
The RFS is the only global standard that audits compliance on board fishing vessels, including ethical and welfare criteria.
Jeremy Langley, Aquaculture and Fisheries Manager at Waitrose, said: “We’re proud to add Responsible Fishing Scheme certification to our requirements for the boats that provide our UK landed fish.
“It is a credit to the UK fleet that they have been so willing to adopt this important safeguard and we are glad to be joining the list of public supporters of the RFS.”
Marine environment minister George Eustice said: “Responsible fishing is essential not only to prevent damage to our marine environment, but also to protect the lives of those who work on our seas.
“It is great to see retailers working with UK fishermen to ensure best practice on board fishing vessels through initiatives like the Responsible Fishing Scheme, which will protect our oceans for future generations.”
Tom Pickerell, technical director at Seafish, added: “This is a huge boost for RFS and it further marks the intent of the UK seafood industry to be recognised worldwide for its commitment to social and welfare issues.”