Further Development of Icelandic Responsible Fisheries Certification

30 April 2014



The purpose of the Icelandic Responsible Fisheries Management Certification Programme is to provide markets with a ‘Certification of Responsible Fisheries Management” at the highest level of acceptance. This third party, ISO accredited certification Programme has been implemented to demonstrate that Icelandic fisheries management systems are based on the internationally accepted standards of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for sustainable use of fish stocks and also ensure good treatment of the ecosystem.  To date Icelandic cod, haddock and saithe fisheries have been certified to the Programme and golden redfish fisheries are in the last stages of certification. 

The Iceland Responsible Fisheries Foundation have taken the decision to have further emphasis placed on the Icelandic Responsible Fisheries Management Specification, a document that has until now been used as a guide to the fishery assessments. The Specification was developed through a committee process and will now become the central reference ‘Standard’ for certification purposes.


The Fisheries Association of Iceland initiated the development of the Icelandic Responsible Fisheries Management Specification through a committee process during 2008-2010 which included a public consultation phase.  The Specification is based on a translation of the FAO Eco-labelling Guidelines minimum substantive criteria for fish and fishery products from marine capture fisheries and draws on the related operational criteria of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

The document was tested in an official third party assessment conducted by Global Trust Certification on the Icelandic cod fishery, which was proven to meet the requirements. The document and certification system were to progress to formal ISO 65 accreditation status whilst at the same time, a similar development in US Alaska was underway. Through this development, a set of Conformance Criteria were derived from the same FAO Code criteria and Ecolabelling Guidelines. 


This set of Conformance Criteria were seen as having an international rather than regional scope and hence became the main focus of accreditation and was used for subsequent certifications of Icelandic fisheries (cod, haddock and saithe).  Accreditation was gained for the programme in February 2012.  At the same time, the Icelandic Responsible Fisheries Management Specification remained in use as central and informative guide to the assessments in Iceland, used by both assessment teams and applicants.

Icelandic Responsible Fisheries Management Specification moving forward

More recently, the Iceland Responsible Fisheries Foundation took a decision to refocus on the Specification as the central document for Icelandic fisheries certification since it’s origination was based on a regional translation of the FAO materials, and hence considered highly relevant to the Iceland fisheries management systems and therefore, supportive of credible, robust third party certification.

The Specification is in application for ISO 65 accreditation and is at a highly advanced stage in the assessment process.  The third party certification model and system used for assessment of Icelandic fisheries has remained the same and is already part of an ISO 65 accredited programme.  The outcome will be an ISO 65 accredited certification programme for Icelandic Responsible Fisheries Management Specification in accordance with the FAO Ecolabelling Guidelines minimum substantive criteria and relevant operational articles of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

For further information, please visit www.ResponsibleFisheries.is or contact Finnur Gardarsson, Project manager, finnur@fiskifelag.is, tel +354 896 2400