IFFO RS Version 2.0 – Op Ed, Andrew Mallison

IFFO RS Version 2.0 – Op Ed, Andrew Mallison

The new version of the IFFO Responsible Supply (RS) standard is going to make a big difference to the fishmeal and fish oil industry, building on an already successful scheme, and is a very welcome upgrade.

Despite the similar names, IFFO RS is independently managed and is a separate company to IFFO. It has always had an independent governing body and, as it has grown, has relied less on the administrative support we (IFFO) provided in the past. Companies wanting to get certified don’t have to be a member of IFFO to enter assessment but I think we can be very proud of the way IFFO members have embraced this standard – over 40% of the world’s production of fishmeal and fish oil is IFFO RS certified. 

Most of us who use computers get the idea that software is upgraded from time to time, and we know the old from the new by the version number. And so it is with Voluntary Standards like the IFFO Responsible Supply (RS) standard, a respected, affordable and very successful certification scheme for fishmeal and fish oil factories. In fact it is the sign of a good standard that it is reviewed and updated from time to time, this can be to clarify things that the English language has a habit of making ambiguous, or to include new areas that the standard wants to include.

The little changes are often covered by small revisions, shown as version 1.1, 1.2 and so on. The big changes are saved for a whole new version, so version 2.0 is not just a collection of tweaks but takes the standard into some new areas. The IFFO RS team consulted our members and other stakeholders, held workshops with users of the scheme and went back to their multi-stakeholder governing body to approve the changes. These included a new fisheries assessment methodology for the multispecies fisheries, a new Good Manufacturing Practice section and updated clauses covering social welfare and pollution management.

Although all these changes are important, one of the more critical for our industry is the assessment of multispecies fisheries. None of the main fisheries certification schemes can really tackle this type of fishery, as the usual management techniques applied to single species stocks are hard to apply when several species are caught together at the same time.

At present these guidelines refer to temperate waters but in the longer term, we hope the work IFFO RS is doing in tropical waters to develop assessment rules will allow more fishmeal and fish oil produced in South East Asia to be certified. Version 2.0 is certainly a big step towards this goal.

Congratulations to the IFFO RS team and it is great to see the RS standard evolving to tackle some of the bigger challenges we face.