Pacifical, the market development company of the nine Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Pacific Island nations, and the Global Seafood Alliance (GSA), announce their partnership to implement the Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS) on all Pacifical fishing operations. The RFVS scheme certification will provide independently verified assurance of fair working and living conditions onboard, and will involve more than 7,000 crew members working on more than 250 vessels operating in the Western Pacific tuna purse seiner fisheries.
How will the Pacifical RFVS scheme differ from the other social guidelines and standards?
The RFVS program differs from other social guidelines or standards in that Pacifical will not rely on self-assessment forms or sporadic audits. Instead certificate issuance will be independently assessed and verified on a trip-to-trip basis against the RFVS standard .
Over the last five years, several social accountability guidelines and standards have been launched with good intentions to address key issues at sea. Most of these guidelines, due to limitations, have focused their approach on self-assessment documents filled out by the fishing companies themselves, accompanied by an in-port audit once a year at best.
The rise of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has proven that consumers and retailers demand clear, independently verified standards when it comes to sustainable fishing. Fishing can only be truly considered sustainable, if the people who make those fisheries run are also treated fairly and responsibly to clear and independently verified standards as well.
“To complement the PNA MSC certification, Pacifical also seeks to provide consumers with the assurance that their PNA caught tuna is fished by people who work under conditions that are free of forced or child labor, and who can enjoy a good life, in a healthy and safe working environment, with fair pay and conditions. The GSA’s RFVS certification program goes beyond our existing guidelines and provides this possibility.” Says Henk Brus, Chief Executive Officer, Pacifical.
The PNA nation’s observers are their eyes and ears on board of purse seiner vessels with crew of about 30 on typically one month trips. They monitor, and report daily on everything that happens on the boat including social issues. With the RVFS program their function on monitoring social conditions will be further extended.
Working under one social standard for PNA waters brings several benefits for our fishing partners. The social accountability criteria will be clear for all management staff, human resources department, captains and fishing masters, and crew. Social accountability claims will be independently verified onboard on a trip to trip basis by default and simplified as independent verification processes will replace the self-assessment protocols in place.
Within the next two years Pacifical and GSA plan to work with industry to bring the certification to 250 purse seiners, owned by about 50 fishing companies, and flagged to more than 10 states.