About the G.U.L.F. Responsible Fisheries Management Certification


The G.U.L.F. RFM Certification Program is a responsible fishery management model based on internationally-accepted principles set by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the Ecolabeling Guidelines for Fish and Fishery Products are the basis for the criteria on which the certification was built (more about the FAO documents).  This model was adopted at the request of Gulf seafood stakeholders to provide a choice in seafood certifications that demonstrate the responsible practices of Gulf fisheries. The scope of the certification is limited to fisheries in Gulf states territorial waters and the EEZ of the Gulf of Mexico.

The G.U.L.F. RFM Certification joins similar responsible management certification models established in Alaska and Iceland. The Responsible Fisheries Management model is also being considered for use in other regions.  The G.U.L.F. RFM Certification is a credible, practical, cost-effective, and transparent approach to fisheries certification. This certification allows companies to demonstrate the responsible practices of the seafood they source.

Key features of the program include:

1. It is a voluntary, third-party certification.

2. It delivers a claim of "responsible fisheries management for sustainable use" according to FAO principles.

3. It measures the effectiveness of fisheries management against biological, ecological, and socio-economic criteria.

4. It seeks maximum stakeholder input to assure inclusiveness and credibility.

5. By being locally based, it provides flexibility for regional needs.

6. It is an accredited certification in conformance with ISO/IEC 17065.

Who has been involved in this process?

After an RFP process, Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries contracted Global Trust Certification, part of NSF, as consultants to assist in the formulation of a G.U.L.F. RFM Certification Scheme. Global Trust has also worked on similar successful projects with fisheries in Alaska and Iceland.

G.U.L.F. developed and convened a Fisheries Technical Advisory Committee to lend its expertise to the certification’s development. The Fisheries TAC has Gulf-wide representation of researchers, resource managers, industry members, and other stakeholders. An Oversight Committee has also been created to ensure that the G.U.L.F. RFM Certification Program continues to develop and operate in a transparent manner.

G.U.L.F. has worked closely with resource managers to facilitate communication and outreach regarding fisheries and issues of sustainability, and to include stakeholders to ensure that the standard formulation process is transparent and thorough.

More on the certification process.

Although we, Audubon Nature Institute, own the standard and scheme, we do not certify, which means that we will assign authority to independent certification bodies to apply the standard to our fisheries. Audubon will remain neutral to certification decisions but will oversee the process to ensure that all entities are appropriately applying the documents, being treated fairly, and assessing consistently.

What’s in the Standard?

The Standard is comprised of five sections derived from the FAO documents that measure the effectiveness of:

A. The Fisheries Management System

B. Data Collection, Stock Assessment and Scientific Advice

C. Management Objectives for the Stock

D. The Precautionary Approach

E. Mitigation of Serious Impacts of the Fishery on the Ecosystem

These sections are in turn divided into Fundamental Clauses; each Fundamental Clause is further subdivided into specific assessment criteria.

Download the full Standard.

Fisheries in the Program

Louisiana Blue Crab
Louisiana Oyster

For Inquiries

For all inquiries regarding the G.U.L.F. RFM Certification Program, please contact John Fallon at jfallon@auduboninstitute.org

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Sponsored and coordinated by Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Authorized by the five Gulf state marine resource management agencies.
NOAA Award #NA10NMF4770481.