Improver Programme FAQs
What is the IFFO RS Improver Programme?
The IFFO RS Improver Programme provides a mechanism by which fisheries that do not currently meet the IFFO RS requirements can work towards approval for certification along a structured pathway and in alignment with the IFFO RS Quality Control Manual, to provide guidance on good practices. The programme also enables such fisheries to obtain recognition for consistent progress made towards achieving IFFO RS approval. Fisheries approval in IFFO RS is based on meeting the requirements laid out in the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF, http://www.fao.org/3/a-v9878e.pdf).
What is a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)?
A Fishery Improvement Project is a multi-stakeholder effort to improve the sustainability of a fishery and may vary in scope and nature. To be a credible FIP it must meet a number of requirements pertaining to participation, funding, transparency, and scientific rigor.
Who is the designated co-ordinator for a FIP?
The designated co-ordinator for the FIP is a person nominated to ensure all members of the multi-stakeholder group involved in the FIP are involved in all aspects of the FIP development and should be the person to communicate with IFFO RS during the application process.
What is a Fishery Action Plan (FAP)?
A Fishery Action Plan is a schedule of improvements based on individual aspects of the fishery that require improvements and take place within a specified timeframe.
Who recognises IFFO RS Improver Programme marine ingredients?
IFFO RS Improver Programme marine ingredients are recognised by other standards such as the BAP.
• BAP (Best Aquaculture Practice): Recognises IFFO RS IP as an approved Programme for demonstrating improvement.
IFFO RS IP is also recognised as a pathway to responsible sourcing and production by other stakeholders and NGO’s including the SFP.
How much does the Improver Programme cost?
IFFO RS Improver Programme charges are based on the multi-stakeholder application (with details of the FIP) and individual companies wishing to utilise IFFO RS IP accepted raw material. A break-down of these one-off and annual charges can be found on the IFFO RS website via the following link (click here).
What are the requirements for applying to the IFFO RS Improver Programme?
You can find the requirements for applying to the IFFO RS Improver Programme in V2.0 of the IFFO RS Improver Programme Application Mechanism in the downloads section on the IFFO RS website via the following link (click here). It is important to note that a production site wishing to use the IFFO RS IP claim must pass an IFFO RS audit for that site and be part of a credible FIP.
How long can you be on the IFFO RS Improver Programme?
The maximum time that an accepted fishery may remain on the Improver Programme is 5 years. Should a fishery feel that they are unable to make sufficient improvement within the 5 years, they may appeal for an extension when this becomes apparent. In such cases, a determination will be made by the IFFO RS Improver Programme Application Committee regarding a possible extension to the timeframe and will only be granted if the fishery can demonstrate that continuous improvement has been made over the course of the Fishery Action Plan (FAP).
How do I apply to the IFFO RS Improver Programme?
You can apply to become accepted onto the IFFO RS Improver Programme by following the application process found on the IFFO RS website here. Before starting the application process, a multi-stakeholder group should be assembled and an initial assessment and gap analysis carried out of the fishery against the IFFO RS standard. A Fishery Action Plan (FAP) then needs to be developed to demonstrate how improvements will be made towards full fishery approval over the duration of the Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). Once this has been agreed to by all stakeholders, a formal application can then be made to IFFO RS using the application forms found in the downloads section on the ‘Become Improver Programme Accepted’ page here. Application Form 3A should be completed by the FIP Coordinator on behalf of the FIP stakeholder group and then agreed to and signed by all members. Application Form 3B should be completed by each individual company wishing to use the IFFO RS IP claim for their production sites. Once completed, these application forms should be submitted to IFFO RS Ltd. directly at email@example.com. Your application will be reviewed by IFFO RS and any comments will be sent back to you before approving the application for submission for Peer Review (Form 3A) and to your certification body of choice for the audit process (Forms 3B). Please ensure that you follow the instructions carefully and you complete the information as accurately as possible.
How can I join an existing IFFO RS Improver Programme?
Should a new company wish to join an existing IFFO RS Improver Programme they should first contact the members of the current accepted IFFO RS IP directly and discuss participation. Once an agreement has been signed by the current participants, the FIP Coordinator should submit the IFFO RS IP Application Form 3C (scope extension) to IFFO RS via firstname.lastname@example.org to include the details of the new site(s).
How does the IFFO RS Improver Programme Peer Review work?
Once an applicant to the IFFO RS IP has submitted Application Form 3A for the FIP and this has passed initial review by IFFO RS, the form will be sent to an accredited certification body for a Peer Review in accordance with specified Guidance documents. The Peer Review is an evaluation of the FIP including all necessary documentation to ensure the Fishery Action Plan is robust and credible over the proposed timeline.
What if the fishery is a multispecies fishery?
The extent to which a fishery meets the requirements of the IFFO RS Standard is measured by completing a fishery assessment. The current IFFO RS fishery assessment methodology is designed to ensure the responsible management of fisheries where a small number of species make up a majority of the catch, which makes it difficult to directly apply the methodology to multispecies fisheries.
To allow a greater range of fisheries to apply to the scheme, IFFO RS is currently developing a methodology to allow multispecies fisheries to be assessed against the IFFO RS Standard. The draft methodology has been developed with input from the IFFO RS Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), mixed trawl fisheries workshops conducted in Vietnam and Thailand, the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) Guidelines and other expert guidance. The draft has been peer reviewed by experts.
Once developed, the testing of the Multispecies Criteria within the methodology will enable a limited number of multispecies fisheries to apply to the IFFO RS Improver Programme (IP). Once the Criteria are fully tested and established, the aim is for these fisheries to apply for full IFFO RS Approval.
How can we ensure the FIP and improvements are transparent?
All applicants accepted onto the IFFO RS IP can be found on the IFFO RS website (click here). Once accepted into the programme, the FAP, its associated deadlines and all other pertinent information must be made publicly available via the IFFO RS website and/or other recognised tools such as the FisheryProgress.org website or equivalent, as approved by IFFO RS.
What happens if we don’t meet the improvement milestones?
A fishery which is found to have fallen behind the timeline defined by the FAP will have one or more conditions raised against its membership of the Improver Programme. The precise nature and timeline of these conditions shall be determined through the usual IP review process (i.e. recommended by the surveillance assessment team, reviewed by the peer reviewer, and finalised by the Application Committee).
Fisheries which fail to demonstrate consistent progress along the FAP timeline will be suspended from the IP following the procedures in the IFFO RS Quality Control Manual. A suspended fishery may be re-instated to the Improver Programme if it meets the requirements of the Condition(s) which resulted in its suspension within 6 months of the suspension (dependent upon continuing to meet any other requirements, such as surveillance assessments). Re-instated fisheries must adhere to the original improvement timeline.