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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 governmental international organization (NGO). Friend of the Sea manages the Friend of the Sea scheme for the certification of products from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. It is the only international program which, with the same seal of approval, can potentially certify both wild-caught and farmed products following audits run by third party accredited certification bodies. Several companies and fisheries rely on Friend of the Sea to assess their own fisheries or farms and verify if the origin of their products is 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 (, a project that reduced dolphin mortality in the tuna industry, saving an estimated 100,000 dolphins every year. Friend of the Sea requirements for tuna companies comprise the Dolphin-Safe approval by the Earth Island institute. Furthermore, some 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 and reduce travel costs and CO2.

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

      Paolo Bray, Franco's son, is the Director.

      The Advisory Board of Friend of the Sea is composed of volunteer members from different geographical regions, 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, 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.

    • The initiative was privately financed in the early stages by Paolo Bray and received some limited funds by the EU FOP Interreg. It is now entirely 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 were initially set by the Friend of the Sea Advisory Board following consultation of main NGOs criteria and stakeholders opinions. Since 2008 modifications and integrations of criteria have been modifiable only by the independent Technical Committee (TC). The TC is made of over 30 people representing all stakeholders (NGOs, Research Institutes, Producers, Distributors, Governmental Bodies). The scope of the Technical Committe is to propose and vote changes and improvements to the Friend of the Sea criteria. Changes must anyway be compliant with the FAO guidelines. The proposed changes must be agreed by at least the majority of voters before being accepted and implemented. Meetings and voting take place online. The Technical Committee is open to anyone who wishes to be involved in the criteria building process.

    • The Checklists for products from aquaculture and wild-catch are available for download on the website. Don't 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. The only exception consists in fisheries that catch less than 10% of total stock and are compliant with all other requirements;
      - fishing method cannot impact the seabed. The impact is acceptable only if corrective measures are implemented in order to reduce the effects to a negligible level;
      - fishing method must be selective (max 8% discards);
      - by-caught 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;
      - energy balance must be in place and company must set yearly fuel efficiency improvement objectives;
      - waste management must be in place;
      - social accountability must be in place.
      Friend of the Sea's criteria for farmed products can be summarized as follows:
      - 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;
      - neither use of growth hormones nor antifouling paints is permitted (unless evidence has been provided that paints are not harmful to the environment);
      - energy balance must be in place and company must set yearly fuel efficiency improvement objectives;

      - social accountability must be in place.

    • In order to join the Technical Committee you must send your CV for approval to 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 certify products from both fisheries and aquaculture. Friend of the Sea believes consumers need to have a standardized message and indication of sustainability for 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
    • Friend of the Sea audits must be performed by third party Certification Bodies accredited by National Accreditation bodies.

      Accredia, the Italian national accreditation body (, which is mutually recognized with other national accreditation bodies of the European Union, checks and accredits certification bodies that have requested to extend their accreditation scope to the Friend of the Sea standard.

      Currently Rina SpA ( is the only certification body having filed application to Accredia to extend its scope of accreditation to the Friend of the Sea Standard.

      Rina SpA is thus, for now, the only certification body to be authorized to carry  Friend of the Sea certification audits.

    • Once the Audit and Licensing Agreement is signed, Friend of the Sea activates a selected certification body which decides with the interested company the date to perform the audit. This normally occurs one or two weeks after receiving the application.

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

    • The Checklists for products from aquaculture and wild-catch are available for download on the website. Don'y fill in the checklists! They are used only by the auditors.

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

    • Two certificates are produced: one is produced by the certification body that attests the positive conclusion of the audit; the other one is produced by Friend of the Sea that authorizes 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 menu "Stakeholders" on the website.

  • Costs

Certified Products

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