Scottish boats are the first to tick all the boxes as a group under a UK-wide scheme to encourage responsible fishing.
Seafood industry body Seafish said yesterday it had presented one of its highly-prized Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) certificates to the Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA), Europe’s largest single fishing organisation.
The RFS programme was launched in 2016 to promote good practice and provice reassurance for consumers.
But this is the first time a group of vessels has been collectively assessed against the scheme’s robust standards.
SWFPA met all the criteria requiring vessels and skippers to show they are operating according to industry-recognised best practice in five core areas: health, safety and crew welfare; training and professional development; the vessel and its mission; care of the catch; and care for the environment.
Vessels can be considered for group application under the scheme if they share a central management system and in-house auditor.
SWFPA, formed in 1943, represents about 220 boats and 1,400 fishers who contribute an estimated £158million annually to Scotland’s economy.
The RFS group certification covers 62 vessels of all sizes.
SWFPA internal auditor James Buchan said: “We are always working to improve the way the seas are managed.
“It’s fantastic that a group of our vessels are the first to gain group certification under the RFS.”
SWFPA’s certification brings the total number of UK vessels certified to RFS standards to 121, while seafood processors, retailers and food service suppliers have committed to incorporating the scheme into their sourcing policies.
Helen Duggan, head of RFS transition, Seafish, said: “The demand for fishing vessels to be able to demonstrate best practice through independent third-party certification is becoming increasingly prevalent, and being certified under the RFS enables them to do this.”