All fishing boats supplying Marks & Spencer to be certified by Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) by 2021

  • All fishing vessels supplying M&S to be RFS certified by 2021
  • All UK vessels to be certified by 2017*
  • Scheme promotes best-practice on crew welfare and responsible catching practices

LONDON, 2016-Apr-20 — /EPR Retail News/ — Marks & Spencer (M&S) today announces an industry leading commitment 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 Responsible Fishing Scheme (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 is the first retailer to make a worldwide commitment of this kind.

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 scheme 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.

Boats and their skipper(s) have to demonstrate best practice in five areas:

  • Safety, health and welfare;
  • Training and professional development;
  • The vessel and its mission (ensuring all legislation and voluntary agreements that apply to its fishing area, catch and gear type are followed);
  • Care of the catch (including provenance, traceability and high hygiene standards)
  • Care for the environment (including management of litter).

Anyone looking to find out more about RFS should visit the Seafish website –

– Ends –

For further information please contact 

Daniel Himsworth, Marks & Spencer press office, 0208 718 1919


Denise Fraser, Seafish, 0131 524 8656

Notes to editors

* Or actively engaged in a time bound plan to achieve certification.

Further detail on the five areas vessels and skippers have to demonstrate best practice on to become RFS certified –

Safety, health and welfare

  • A commitment to generating a culture of integrity and respect (e.g. no forced labour) will be demonstrated;
  • Requirements established also draw from other relevant safety management and ethical and welfare initiatives to improve safety of the crew and promote decent working conditions.

Training and professional development

  • Covers accessible training for the key priority areas, especially safety;
  • Focus is on improving skills, knowledge and understanding;
  • Commitment to raise standards, open up new opportunities and cooperate with management authorities.

The vessel and its mission

  • Statement detailing vessel’s mission (e.g. fishing area, catch focus, gear type etc.);
  • The vessel and its gear are in compliance with all current legislation;
  • All legal with the right documentation in place;
  • Full cooperation with voluntary agreements in existence in the fishery.

Care of the catch

  • Focus on supplying safe, high quality, wholesome product with known provenance;
  • Hygienic handling and storage at appropriate temperatures;
  • Full traceability from catch to quayside;
  • Responsible capture & landing of live products;
  • Commitment to maintaining the value of the catch.

Care for the environment

  • Responsible practice & respecting the environment (management of litter, lost fishing gear recovery, wildlife interaction records);
  • Supporting fishery science (e.g. observers, science partnerships etc.);
  • Tie-in with other voluntary schemes.

About Plan A

Plan A is Marks & Spencer’s eco and ethical programme that tackles both today’s and tomorrow’s sustainable retail challenges. Launched in 2007, the plan has helped M&S send no waste to landfill, become carbon neutral and win over 200 industry awards. To find out more please visit the Plan A website –

About Seafish

Seafish was founded in 1981 by an Act of Parliament and aims to support all sectors of the seafood industry for a sustainable, profitable and socially responsible future. It is the only pan-industry body offering services to all parts of the industry, from the start of the supply chain at catching and aquaculture; through processing, importers, exporters and distributors of seafood right through to restaurants and retailers.

Seafish is funded by a levy on the first sale of seafood landed in the UK. Its services are intended to support and improve the environmental sustainability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the industry, as well as promoting sustainably-sourced seafood. These services include technical research and development, responsible sourcing initiatives, economic consulting, market research, industry accreditation, safety training for fishermen and legislative advice.