Brothers Brian and John Stephen from Boddam have become the first skippers in Scotland to be certified under the new Responsible Fishing Scheme.
The skippers, who fish out of Peterhead on their vessels Ocean Harvest and Harvester, will now hold the certification for two years and participate in the annual checks to ensure the standard is adhered to.
A key revision to the scheme has been a focus on crew welfare, following slavery issues that have been reported in the seafood supply chain, as well as the general health and safety on board fishing vessels.
On receiving his RFS certification, John said: “Looking after our six crew members is the priority while at sea.
“The addition of a focus on health, safety and working conditions means that our qualification under the scheme both reassures our crew and lets Brian and I know that we are doing everything within our power to have the safest voyages possible.”
Commenting, SWFPA inshore and environmental policy co-ordinator Anne-Margaret Anderson said: “With our strong commitment to responsible catching practices and crew welfare, the SWFPA is delighted that our members will be some of the first in Scotland to go for certification under the re-vamped Responsible Fisheries Scheme (RFS).
“It is important that skippers are able to demonstrate that as well as taking a responsible attitude to the environment and sustainable fishing, they adhere to best practice when it comes to crew and conditions on board, and the RFS enables them to do that.”
The revised scheme will offer enhanced certification credibility for all of those vessel applicants who sign up.
It marks the intent of the UK seafood industry to be recognised worldwide for its commitment to social and welfare related issues and is now the only programme certifying crew welfare, as well as responsible catching practices on vessels.