Frequently Asked Questions

Please select the Subject you need information about:

  • The Friend of the Sea Project
    • Friend of the Sea is a non profit non governative international organization (NGO). It is registered in Italy as a non profit association. Friend of the Sea is managing the Friend of the Sea scheme for the certification of products from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. It is the only international scheme which, with the same logo/seal of approval and via an audit run by a third party accredited Certification Body, can potentially certified products from wild-caught or farmed. Several companies and fisheries all over the world (from Tasmania to Chile, from Canada to Vietnam and from Norway to Madagascar, have trusted Friend of the Sea to assess their own fisheries, farms or products and verify if their origin was compliant with Friend of the Sea sustainability criteria).
       

    • Friend of the Sea was founded in 2006 by Paolo Bray, the European Director of the Earth Island Institute Dolphin-Safe project (www.dolphinsafetuna.org, www.earthisland.org) a successful project to reduce dolphin mortality in the tuna industry. The project and the organization are completely independent from the Earth Island Institute, however one of the requirements for tuna companies is to be also approved Dolphin-Safe by the Earth ISland institute. Furthermore, some of the directors of the Earth Island Institute are members of the Advisory Board of Friend of the Sea.
       

    • Friend of the Sea has a slim structure to avoid administration costs overload. It exploits new communication technologies to speed up project development, reduce travel costs and reduce CO2.

      Dr Franco Bray , father of Paolo Bray, an important Food Technologies consultant, is the President of Friend of the Sea.

      Paolo Bray is Director.

      The Advisory Board provides Technical Advice to Friend of the Sea and is composed of volunteer members from different areas of the world, mainly involved in environmental NGOs: Heinzpeter Studer (CH, Fair-fish); David Phillips and Mark Berman (USA, Earth Island Institute); Reed MacFarland (UK, Seafood Consultant); Ravi Gauthman (India, Triton Consultants).

      An independent and external Technical Committee made up of stakeholders from all over the world, has the power to propose changes to the criteria and vote the changes on a majority basis.

       

    • Friend of the Sea received some limited funds in the initial years by the EU FOP Interreg. The initiative has been privately financed in the early stages by Paolo Bray. It is now entitrely funded by the Royalties for the use of the Friend of the Sea logo and by sporadic sponsorships strictly related to single marketing events.
       

    • Criteria have initially been set by the Friend of the Sea Advisory Board following consultation of main NGOs criteria and stakeholders opinions. Modification and integration of Criteria, since 2006, are modifiable only by the independent Technical Committee. The Technical Committe is a body made of over 30 people representing all stakeholders (NGOs, Research Institutes, Producers, Distributors, Governmental Bodies). The Technical Committe role is to propose and vote changes and improvements to the Friend of the Sea criteria. Changes must anyway comply with the FAO guidelines. Majority of voters must agree to proposed changes in order for the change to be accepted and implemented. The Technical Committee meets and votes online. The Technical Committee is open to anyone who would wish to be involved in the criteria building process.
       

    • In order to join the Technical Committee you must send your CV for approval to info@friendofthesea.org specifying in your email that you wish to be part of the Technical Committee.
       

    • Friend of the Sea is the only international scheme which, with the same seal of approval can certifiy products from both fisheries and aquaculture. We believe consumers need to have a standardized message and indication of sustainability of the production of seafood. Furthermore aquaculture and fisheries are strongly connected because of potential reciprocal impacts and because fishfeed mostly originate from wild-caught fish stocks. In fact Friend of the Sea is also the only scheme certifying fishmeal, fishoil and fishfeed.
       

  • The Audit Process
    • Criteria have initially been set by the Friend of the Sea Advisory Board following consultation of main NGOs criteria and stakeholders opinions. Modification and integration of Criteria, since 2006, are modifiable only by the independent Technical Committee. The Technical Committe is a body made of over 30 people representing all stakeholders (NGOs, Research Institutes, Producers, Distributors, Governmental Bodies). The Technical Committe role is to propose and vote changes and improvements to the Friend of the Sea criteria. Changes must anyway comply with the FAO guidelines. Majority of voters must agree to proposed changes in order for the change to be accepted and implemented. The Technical Committee meets and votes online. The Technical Committee is open to anyone who would wish to be involved in the criteria building process.

    • The Checklists for products from aquaculture and wild-catch are available for download on the website. You should not fill in the checklists! They are used only by the auditors.
      Friend of the Sea's criteria for wild-caught products can be summarized as follows:
      - target stock cannot be overexploited according to FAO, Regional Fishery Bodies and National Marine Authorities. Only exception: fishery catches less than 10% of total stock catch and compliant with all other requirements;
      - fishing method cannot impact the seabed. Only acceptable if measures implemented to reduce impact to a negligible level;
      - fishing method must be selective (max 8% discards);
      - bycaught species cannot be among those included in the IUCN Redlist of endangered species;
      - fishery must be compliant with legal requirements (incl. TACs, no IUU, no FOC, mesh size, min size, MPA, etc). All this is verified by onsite audit;
      - Product unit carbon footprint must be reduced and/or offset by 20% each year;
      - Waste management must be in place;
      - Social Accountability must be in place.
      Friend of the Sea's criteria for farmed products:
      - Environmental Impact Assessment or equivalent must have been run positively before development of the site;
      - No impact on critical habitat, such as mangroves, wetlands, etc.
      - Water, Energy and Feed management must be in place;
      - Feed must be Friend of the Sea certified when available on the market;
      - Escapes must have been reduced to a negligible level;
      - No use of growth hormones, GMO nor antifouling paints (unless evidence has been provided that paints are not harmful to the environment);
      - Product unit carbon footprint must by 20% be reduced or offset by 20% per year;
      - Social Accountability must be in place.
       

    • The audit is run by selected auditors of Certification Bodies. Only ISO accredited certification bodies can run Friend of the Sea audit. Friend of the Sea has also developed an Accreditation Procedure. The task force of the Horizontal Harmonisation Committe of European cooperation for Accreditation (EA) has evaluated our scheme and found that it meets EA's requirements as stated in the draft policy document on conformity assessment schemes, EA 2/11. This means that soon the Certification Bodies will undergo a specific Friend of the Sea Accreditation. Certification Bodies currently operating Friend of the Sea audit are: Aqa Certificazioni, Bureau Veritas, IFQC/Global Trust, SGS.

    • Audit is started once Friend of the Sea Advisory Board has reviewed the Preliminary Information Form and has decided that the audit is authorized. This generally occurs one week after receipt of the Preliminary Information Form. Once the Audit and Licensing agreement is received signed, Friend of the Sea will activate a selected Certification Body which will decide with teh audited company the date to start the audit. This normally occurs one or two weeks after application.

    • Audit of aquaculture sites normaly last one day per audited site plus maximum 2 weeks for audit report review. Audit of fisheries normally last from 2 days onsite to 2 weeks, plus maximum 2 weeks for audit report review.
       

    • Audit is focused on the farming area for aquaculture and to the fishing vessels during offload for wild-caught products. Traceability is then run onsite and via documental evidence also in the processing area. Auditor will check all the requirements in the checklist (see above 2)

    • Audit is focused on the farming area for aquaculture and to the fishing vessels during offload for wild-caught products. Traceability is then run onsite and via documental evidence also in the processing area. Auditor will check all the requirements in the checklist (see above 2)
       

    • The Checklists for products from aquaculture and wild-catch are available for download on the website. You should not fill in the checklists! They are used only by the auditors.
      There is only one checklist for aquaculture and it adapts to the different species farmed and methods, with species specific requirements included. There is only one checklist for wild-caught products, adapting to all different fishing methods.
       

    • Certification Bodies normally engage at producing the audit report max 2 weeks after audit is finished.

    • Two certificates are produced. one from the certification body, certifying the inspection. One from Friend of the Sea, authorizing the use of the logo.
       

    • Stakeholders can contribute during the audit and object at the end of the audit. more information is available under the Stakeholders' menu on the website.
       

  • Costs involved
    • First Year fee ranges from 5.000 euros upwards, depending on the complexity of the audit (a final quotation is issued once all data is collected and Friend of the Sea receives a quotation from the Certification Body). The first year fee includes all audit costs and 12 months royalties to use the Friend of the Sea logo in case of certification. Friend of the Sea also promotes the certification and invites the company to participate to promotional events and one to one meetings with potential customers. Second and following years fees are 3.000 Euros per product from the same origin.
       

    • First Year fee ranges from 5.000 euros upwards, depending on the complexity of the audit (a final quotation is issued once all data is collected and Friend of the Sea receives a quotation from the Certification Body). The first year fee includes all audit costs and 12 months royalties to use the Friend of the Sea logo in case of certification. Friend of the Sea also promotes the certification and invites the company to participate to promotional events and one to one meetings with potential customers. Second and following years fees are 3.000 Euros per product from the same origin. 
       

    • A sample is available for download
       

Certified Products

Friend of the Sea - C.so Buenos Aires 37, 20124 Milan Italy - HQ +39 0287075166 - Italy +39 3485650306 - Skype: friend.of.the.sea - Elastico Comunicazione