Global Benchmark Tool
9 GSSI Recognized Certification Schemes
These 9 schemes have successfully completed the full GSSI Benchmark Process. Once a scheme completes the process, it is formally and publicly announced as ‘GSSI recognized’. All Information and reporting about our recognized schemes can be found using the overview link.
What it does
Underpinned by the FAO Guidelines, GSSI’s Global Benchmark Tool provides formal recognition of seafood certification schemes that successfully complete a rigorous and transparent benchmark process. The Tool aims to minimize the overall environmental impact of how we produce, catch and supply seafood to meet the growing global demand.
Why it’s needed
A Sustainable Future
The fisheries and aquaculture sectors are continuously growing, and with more than half of the world’s fish stocks being fully utilized, the seafood sector can no longer operate without the consideration of sustainability.
Aligning Global Efforts and Resources
The Global Benchmark Tool provides confidence in certified seafood and promotes improvement in seafood certification schemes by recognizing those that are robust and credible. Using the Tool, GSSI aligns global efforts and resources to address the latest seafood sustainability challenges. Together we can make a difference for the future of seafood and ensure that there is more sustainable seafood for everyone.
How it works
GSSI’s Global Benchmark Tool is made up of 3 parts:
Information on GSSI Essential Components, which a scheme needs to meet to be recognized by GSSI, and information on GSSI Supplementary Components, which show a scheme’s diverse approach
Steps a scheme goes through to be recognized by GSSI
The statement of GSSI Recognition and Benchmark Report
All seafood certification schemes will be assessed against Sections A and B. Depending on the scope of the
seafood certification scheme, they will also be assessed against either Section C or D or both.
Governance of Seafood Certification Schemes
Operational Management of Seafood Certification Schemes
Aquaculture Certification Standards
Fisheries Certification Standards
Seven-step Benchmark Process
The Tool’s seven-step Benchmark Process is voluntary and designed to be independent, impartial and transparent. The expert-led process involves objective assessments made against performance areas covering scheme governance, operational management (including chain of custody) and standards for aquaculture and fisheries certification.
UN Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is a specialized agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and a founding member of GSSI. The FAO supported the development of a common benchmark for seafood certification schemes. GSSI used the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the FAO Guidelines for Ecolabelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine/Inland Capture Fisheries and the FAO Technical Guidelines on Aquaculture Certification, which were endorsed by the Committee on Fisheries. These guidelines are globally accepted instruments that set the bar for responsible fisheries and ecolabelling.
The FAO Guidelines upon which the Tool is based:
The Global Benchmark Tool is valued across the entire seafood sector for the following benefits.
Harvesters / Producers
The Global Benchmark Tool provides harvesters and producers the opportunity to choose a certification scheme best suited for them, while still being recognized as robust in the global market. In turn, working with one certification leads to reduced auditing costs and eliminates redundancies.
Processors / Wholesale / Distribution
The Global Benchmark Tool provides processors, wholesalers
Retail / Food Service
The Global Benchmark Tool provides retailers/food service providers with an added level of assurance in their certified seafood sourcing. This assurance creates more choice in the market and ensures confidence in the seafood we source. It also enables more informed and simplified decision making, as well as globally consistent and centralized data to guide your purchasing decision.
For NGOs advocating for healthy oceans and marine resources, GSSI provides a global, multi-stakeholder platform for collaboration and knowledge exchange. At the same time, GSSI’s Global Benchmark Tool is helping to improve existing certification schemes and to shape the development of new schemes in line with internationally agreed FAO guidelines.
Governmental and Inter-Governmental Organizations
For governmental and inter-governmental organizations promoting sustainable development for the seafood sector and for those whose livelihoods depend on it, GSSI acts as a leading public-private partnership. GSSI connects governments, industry and other supply chain actors, helping them to meet international commitments, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2, 8, 12, 14, and 17.
Being GSSI certificated allows Scheme Owners to showcase their commitment and alignment with the FAO Guidelines. By undergoing the Global Benchmark Tool process, Scheme Owners can be assured that their standards meet the bar for their environmental, governmental and operational criteria.
The Benchmarking Process is voluntary and designed to be independent, impartial and transparent. To ensure the process remains so, GSSI recruits experts to provide objective assessments against the Benchmark Framework. The schemes are assessed by an Independent Expert and reviewed by a Benchmark Committee.
Expert Working Groups develop initial drafts of the Benchmark Framework and the Benchmark Process. These documents are approved by the GSSI Steering Board. Two rounds of stakeholder consultations take place as well as a pilot testing program.
Launch of the Tool
The Global Benchmark Tool is launched with the FAO at the 20-year anniversary of the adoption of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
Begin of Revisions
Schemes, Independent Experts and Benchmark Committee Members provide feedback on v1.0 of the Tool. Expert Working Group review begins. A 60-day public consultation takes place for v1.0 in 2020.
Following Expert Working Group reviews, public consultation, and approval from the GSSI Steering Board, the revised Global Benchmark Tool is launched at the bi-annual GSSI Partners Meeting on October 20.
up to Date
In order to ensure that the Benchmark Tool is up to date and in line with current FAO guidelines, revisions take place every three years. Revisions for version 2.0 – launched in October of 2021 – were focused on the following three areas:
Improvement of benchmark component language
Reduction of the number of components to reduce complexity while maintaining the benchmark standard
Inclusion of new FAO guidelines as supplementary components
We encourage all stakeholders to actively participate in our Global Benchmark Tool Process, including conducting and guiding the benchmark process, providing comments during our public consultations, and taking part in the development of new initiatives including the review of the Tool.
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Participate in our Public Consultations
The Global Benchmark Tool Process is designed to be transparent and a true multi-stakeholder process. Therefore, for every scheme that enters the Benchmark Process and reaches step 5 of the process, GSSI holds a 30-day public consultation. GSSI welcomes comments from all industry stakeholders. Learn more
Become a Benchmark Committee Member
To ensure the Benchmark Process remains independent and impartial, GSSI works with a global network of Benchmark Committee Members to provide feedback on the process for each seafood certification scheme. To learn more and apply to be a Benchmark Committee Member, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join an Expert Working Group
For the development of GSSI’s tools, we convene multi-stakeholder Expert Working Groups to inform and shape the solutions. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Apply to be benchmarked
The GSSI Benchmark Process, and subsequent GSSI recognition, is open to all third-party assured seafood certification schemes. Certification schemes will pay a benchmark fee to cover the operational costs of the Benchmark Process. To apply to enter into the Benchmark Process, please contact the GSSI Secretariat:
Prefer Direct Mail? firstname.lastname@example.org