Sign up to fish scheme, M&S tells suppliers

MARKS & Spencer is telling all of its suppliers to sign up to the Responsible Fishing Scheme or RFS as it is generally known.
The retailer says its wants to help promote best practice welfare and environmental standards in the fishing industry.
The aim is for all fishing boats supplying M&S to be certified by the RFS by 2021, or be actively engaged in a time bound plan to achieve RFS certification. This applies worldwide, however UK boats will be required to gain the certificate or be actively engaged by the end of 2017.
M&S says it is the first retailer to make a worldwide commitment of this kind, although Waitrose issued a similar edict to British fishing vessels earlier in the year.
Andy Adcock, director of food at Marks & Spencer, said: ‘We’re passionate about being a responsible retailer. We only buy fish from the most sustainable sources, a commitment we’ve worked tirelessly on for almost 20 years, and this pledge means our customers can shop with us knowing we’ve done everything possible to protect the marine environment and those working in our fish supply chain.’
The Seafish RFS scheme is the only one of its kind in the industry. It provides tangible evidence that the seafood caught by a fishing boat has been responsibly caught and handled and the boat has the highest standards on crew welfare, fair pay, health and safety and human rights.
Tom Pickerell, technical director at Seafish, said: ‘The commitment from M&S is another huge boost for RFS and it further marks the intent of the UK seafood industry to be recognised worldwide for its work on reducing social and welfare issues.
‘There is a collective call for seafood to be socially responsible as well as environmentally sustainable and as a result we are working with fishermen at the heart of that supply chain to demonstrate adherence to best practice in crew welfare.’
RFS is a voluntary scheme and both the fishing boat and the training and welfare of its crew must meet RFS standards for a vessel to be certified.
Once the boat owner and its skipper have applied for certification they are audited by an independent certification body.