2012/746 Preliminary investigation of internationally recognised responsible fisheries management certification

2012/746 Preliminary investigation of internationally recognised responsible fisheries management certification


By Sevaly Sen 



The FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and FAO Guidelines for the Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries represent internationally negotiated documents that represent consensus on the criteria for responsibly managed fisheries.  These ‘tools’ form the basis of a number of private standards that are used for the certification of fisheries; including Marine Stewardship Council,  Alaska FAO Based Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification and Iceland Responsible Fisheries Management Certification. This project investigated the feasibility of an FAO Based RFM Certification for Australia by testing the process on two New South Wales fisheries using the Conformance Criteria Version 1.2 which has been used in Alaska RFM fisheries certification.


After initial compatibility assessment studies, it was concluded that some revision to the FAO Based Conformance Criteria would be necessary. This would require more clearly defined clauses for assessing the general fishery management framework and a sub-set of more clearly defined criteria for assessing a sample of species in the fishery to assess the consistency of the management system.

The project developed a method to select a subset of representative species using a sampling approach similar to that used in aquaculture certification. It is proposed that this sampling approach could also be used at the fisheries management agency level to assess the management system as a whole.


Three alternative options for assessing the responsible fisheries management for Australia were presented for further discussion at the end of project workshop:


1. Criteria developed for first/second party assessments based on   existing FAO and national normative documents (non-certification).

2. An Australian publically available/ technical fisheries management specification which can be assessed by a second party or certified by an independent third party.

3. A formal Australian Fishery Management Standard which can be certified by an independent third party.



A ‘Short Primer on Standards’  was also produced as a jargon buster for readers who are less familiar with the terminology of accreditation, certification and standards found in the overarching report and can be found here.