What is Certification?
Seafood certification is valuable because it offers an objective and neutral assessment of a fishery. Third-party certification is increasingly a requirement for products in the national and global marketplace. Audubon G.U.L.F. has created a certification, called the G.U.L.F. Responsible Fisheries Management Certification, designed to meet the needs of Gulf of Mexico fisheries.
Certification is about gathering information on the status of a fishery: how the species is harvested, how much is harvested in a season, what regulations are in place, what level and quality of research the fisheries managers conduct to monitor the stocks, among other parameters, to determine how the fisheries are meeting the standards of a responsible management structure.
An independent certification body researches the history of the fishery and gathers evidence to support their findings on how the fishery meets a standard. Oftentimes, this can be a long process, with many stages, from pre-assessment to full certification. If there are areas where a fishery does not fully meet the standard, management bodies and industry members will be given the opportunity to address those gaps through an agreed-upon action plan with the certification body. Ultimately, the certification provides assurance that a fishery is taking all necessary steps for responsible management. More on the certification process.
If significant gaps exist that would prevent a fishery from becoming certified, Fishery Improvement Projects (FIP) can serve as a step-wise approach toward certification. G.U.L.F. offers Marine Advancement Plans, modeled after FIPs, but tailored to the G.U.L.F. RFM Certification.