First Vessel to Achieve Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard Announced

GSA has announced that the first vessel to achieve the Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS) has been awarded the RFVS certificate by Lloyds Register. The vessel, Antarctic Discovery, belongs to Australian Longline Fishing, operating in a Patagonian and Antarctic Toothfish fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Certified.

The 56m vessel carries a crew of 20-25, plus two observers, for trips into very challenging waters, often for a couple of months at a time.

“We were very keen to get independent, credible, certification that we recruit and care for our crews in accordance with global conventions. Our customers need that assurance. Now we can demonstrate that we are caring for both the fish and the people who harvest them, and we all feel good about that,” said Malcolm McNeill, Managing Director Australian Longline Fishing.  

Preparation and timing were cited as key to a successful audit by Marty Johnson, Vessel Coordinator. The vessel was in dock in New Zealand being prepared for its next trip, while Marty was in Hobart, where the company is based. Audit days and crew interviews were carefully planned so as not to detract from those preparations.

“Spending time discussing what we needed to prepare, with GSA and with Lloyds Register, helped make sure we used audit time efficiently. We needed to sharpen up in a few areas, but that was a useful exercise in itself,” said Marty “We plan to have a second vessel audited in a few months and will be even better prepared.”

GSA currently has 12 audit pilots underway or in preparation covering very different types of vessels, operations and locations around the world from Russia to the Philippines, Africa to the UK.

“I am delighted that the first vessel to be awarded under GSA’s Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard, operates in a MSC-certified fishery.  Whilst the MSC standard is focused on environmental criteria, we have long recognized the industry-wide importance of strengthening workers’ protection and welfare at sea. MSC participated in the development process for the RFVS, and very much welcome this and other initiatives which seek to verify and improve labor conditions and crew welfare at the vessel level through independent verification processes,” said Rupert Howes, CEO of the Marine Stewardship Council. “That vessels already participating in the MSC program, are part of the first wave to undergo RFVS audits, is a huge credit to their skippers and crews and testament to the fact that many of our partners set the benchmark for best practice across the global fishing industry.”

Note to editors:

  • Australian Longline Fishing has been operating since 1995 and is registered in Hobart Tasmania. It is the sole Australian operator in Antarctic waters and has licences to fish for both Patagonian and Antarctic Toothfish. Vessels work to the sustainability standards set by CCAMLR and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).  Toothfish sourced from the Southern Ocean is Marine Stewardship Council certified and also considered a ‘Best Choice’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.  Australian Longline Fishing currently operates two longliners with a third embarking on its inaugural trip in January 2020. The first vessel to be certified was the 56 metre Antarctic Discovery, registered in Hobart. It carries a crew of 20-25 plus two observers. For more information, visit

About GSA
GSA is an independent, not-for-profit organization. The GSA vision is to provide high quality, end-to-end, fully traceable assurance for seafood, supporting the sustainable development of global production while protecting people and planet. GSA works with partners where standards already exist, and creates transparent and credible standards to fill gaps where needed. The Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard was developed by GSA, in partnership with Seafish, through a transparent and rigorous two-year process. It enables fishing operations to provide assurance of decent working conditions and operational best practice from catch to shore. GSA took ownership of the RFVS in May 2020.