FAQ Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative

↓ What is GSSI and why set it up?

GSSI is a platform that brings partners together from across the seafood sector worldwide to share knowledge and drive change by coming up with solutions to challenges in the sector. It was set up to bring more clarity into the marketplace on the growing number of seafood certification schemes. Helping to make purchasing decisions more efficient by offering greater choice and driving down costs, while at the same time promoting environmental sustainability.

↓What is GSSI's success story?

GSSI success comes from being the first collective and non-competitive approach to bring clarity to seafood certification worldwide. Its Global Benchmark Tool for seafood certification schemes is now up and running. GSSI partners are going to use the outcomes of the Tool in their daily operations, which will build confidence in the supply and promotion of certified seafood and promote improvement in seafood certification schemes. And in that way consumers are going to be able to be confident about the certified seafood on offer

↓Who is part of the GSSI make-up?

GSSI is made up of a wide range of respected partners across the seafood sector worldwide: companies, NGOs, experts, governmental and intergovernmental organizations. GSSI is co-financed by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through its develoPPP.de program. In 2013 GSSI started out with 17 Funding Partner companies and that number has now grown to 32 in 2015.

↓What is the FAO-GSSI link?

GSSI and the FAO are closely working together. FAO is a strong supporter of GSSI and its work to create a level playing field on seafood certification. The Global Benchmark Tool has been developed from core FAO documents, the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the FAO Guidelines for seafood certification and ecolabelling*. GSSI and FAO have run regional workshops in Africa, Asia and South America to support FAO member countries and the private sector to get involved.

* FAO Guidelines for the Ecolabelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine/Inland Capture Fisheries and FAO Technical Guidelines on Aquaculture


↓How can new partners shape GSSI?

GSSI welcomes new partners to join and continue to shape the direction of leading topics in the seafood sector worldwide. With the Global Benchmark Tool now up and running, and seafood certification schemes encouraged to sign up and be benchmarked, GSSI is looking to see how its wide-ranging partnership and expertise can be used to look at other important areas. Get in touch with secretariat@ourgssi.org to find out more and see how you can join.

↓Is GSSI truly global in its reach?

GSSI, as its name sets out, aims to be a truly global initiative – a platform that works with all groups active in the seafood sector across each region. To start with GSSI has had the support of leading partners operating in North America and Europe and also close links with governments in Asia, and growing interest from across Africa and South America and Australia-Pacific. GSSI looks forward to new partners and networks joining from across all of FAO’s member countries.

↓Why have a Global Benchmark Tool?

GSSI’s Global Benchmark Tool is needed because the seafood certification landscape is confusing with a growing number of certification schemes in the marketplace. That means it’s important to have a global benchmark based on internationally accepted documents that identifies and recognizes existing credible certification schemes and supports other schemes to improve.

↓Who will the Tool help?

The Tool will help to make information available across the seafood supply chain. For producers, it means more options to choose the scheme that is right for them and reduce the need for multiple audits. For seafood buyers, it means simpler, more consistent data to guide their purchasing decisions. For NGOs, it means more open and checked information to help promote environmental sustainability. For seafood certification schemes it means being publicly recognized once they meet key criteria and being able to showcase their approach.

↓How was the Tool developed and what was FAO’s role?

The Tool has been developed over a 3-year in-depth, collaborative process. This has involved: GSSI Expert Working Groups on Fisheries, Aquaculture and Process; 2 public consultations (with 2500+ comments from 45+ organizations); a pilot test with 8 seafood certification schemes, 8 regional workshops and GSSI Steering Board’s review and approval of the Tool for launch. FAO played a critical role in the Tool’s development by providing technical assistance in using FAO Certification and Ecolabelling Guidelines as a member of the Expert Working Groups and as a member of the Steering Board.

↓How does the Tool work?

The Tool is made up of 3 parts: a Benchmark Process, a Benchmark Framework with Essential and Supplementary Components and a Result. Seafood certification schemes go through a 7-step Benchmark Process to be recognized by GSSI. GSSI will publically recognize a certification scheme that meets all the GSSI Essential Components, which are criteria grounded in the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the FAO Guidelines. At the same time the Benchmark Process will show how a certification scheme meets GSSI Supplementary Components, which are criteria that show a scheme’s diverse approach and help stakeholders understand where differences exist.  GSSI Supplementary Components do not need to be met for GSSI recognition. The Result is a statement of GSSI Recognition and a Benchmark Report published on www.ourgssi.org. GSSI will only communicate the results of GSSI-recognized schemes.

↓What is the Tool’s scope?

The GSSI Global Benchmark Tool is currently focused on environmental issues. GSSI partners recognize the growing importance of social issues in global seafood supply chains and the work of global organizations in this area. GSSI is committed to exploring how social issues may be addressed and will prepare a White Paper in autumn 2015 outlining options for how the GSSI platform and partnership can support the seafood sector moving forward. The White Paper will also explore how the GSSI Global Benchmark Tool can be used to further promote improvement. GSSI partners and stakeholders are invited to join the discussion on GSSI’s future at public events and dedicated workshops to be announced on this website.

↓How can the Tool’s success be judged?

The Tool can be judged a success by the number of seafood certification schemes that sign up to be benchmarked and are GSSI recognized, as well as by the number of companies that use the Tool outcomes in their daily operations, accepting GSSI recognized schemes when sourcing certified seafood. This will help to make purchasing decisions more cost efficient by providing greater choice, driving down costs, and promoting environmental sustainability.

↓What does the Tool cost to run and who pays?

Certification schemes that wish to be benchmarked will pay a benchmark fee to cover the operational costs of the Benchmark Process. The GSSI Partnership pays for developing and maintaining the Global Benchmark Tool and the GSSI platform through an annual contribution and by providing technical expertise.