The basis for a new Norwegian Responsible Fisheries Management (NRFM) standard is under development

The basis for a new Norwegian Responsible Fisheries Management (NRFM) standard is under development 

A new Norwegian Responsible Fisheries Management (NRFM) standard is under development.

It may take time, but the researchers from NOfima are positive.

The NOfima researcher Marianne Svorken who has led the work of creating the draft that is now available, believes that a new standard will be completed and put into use.

“The work done with the development of a new, Norwegian Sustainability Standard forms a good basis for the future process, and for discussions in various business forums about the need for such a standard for fisheries in Norwegian waters,” explains Ms Svorken.

She has led the project, which, funded by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry’s research funding (FHF), has aimed to develop a sustainability standard for Norwegian fisheries, based on Norwegian conditions.

Representatives from Sjømat Norge, Kystfiskarlaget, Norges Råfisklag, Fiskebåt, Norges Fiskarlag, Fiskeridirektoratet, Ministry of Trade and Fisheries, the Institute of Marine Research and Natur og Ungdom have contributed input to the work on the Norwegian standard.

The draft has now been completed. The Norwegian standard was developed by the Global Trust, which also developed similar standards for Iceland and Alaska, and is built on the same model.

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But before the certification scheme Norwegian Responsible Fisheries Management (NRFM) is eventually implemented, a good deal of work remains with further development, accreditation, financing and building up administration.

“It is then important to focus on the fact that an important goal of the standard is to contribute to the management of Norwegian fisheries can be even better, at the same time as business actors can use it as documentation of sustainable seafood,” says Ms Svorken.

Testing of more fisheries than cod and haddock, ISO65 accreditation of the programme’s steering body and GSSI approval are among the processes that remain before any new Norwegian standard can be used. In addition, the researchers recommend that further work be done on details about the standard and communication in order to gain even more knowledge about how such a scheme can best work in Norway. At the same time, they believe that work should continue on a long-term financing model based on future clients, so that this is clear before the scheme is eventually transferred to a newly established organization.

The researchers also believe that the scheme should not be owned by the industry’s own interest organisations.

“We believe that either a separate organisation should be established that can own and operate the scheme, or that alternative tracks for finding units that can take ownership of the standard are explored,” says Ms Svorken.

Across business organisations

Sustainability certification is important to achieve market access to our most important seafood markets. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has long been the dominant and almost exclusive provider of third-party certification.

“Competing with MSC is not a goal in itself, and since this standard is so strong in the market, there is no doubt that Norwegian fisheries are still profited from, and even dependent on being MSC-certified to satisfy more of the international markets. Nevertheless, we consider it advantageous to also have a standard that is directly adapted to the Norwegian fisheries,” says the project manager for the development of Norwegian RFM.

If the scheme is to work, however, there is a need for all links in the industry to contribute and for the implementation of a national certification body to take place through cooperation across business organisations, and thus contribute to the development and improvement of Norwegian fisheries in line with the requirements for guidelines for eco-labelling in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Collaboration with Iceland and Alaska

Alaska and Iceland were early to establish their own programs to document their sustainability through an alternative RFM standard.

Iceland’s RFM has been described as a competitive scheme that has several advantages, including low operating costs, national control and the ability to differentiate based on origin. The main challenges, however, are that they are too small and thus too uncompetitive. However, a collaboration between Iceland, Alaska and Norway will contribute to the RFM schemes being able to become widespread enough to become a solid player in the market. This opens up a number of new opportunities within both marketing work and cost savings.

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New Norwegian Responsible Fisheries Management standard under development

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