Concerned by persisting overfishing and the impact of fishing on endangered species, wildlife and marine ecosystems, 11 European wholesalers and retailers are speaking with one voice to call on EU Member States and the EU institutions to ensure sustainable fisheries management via their revision of the EU fisheries Control Regulation*. In a statement published ahead of a key negotiation meeting taking place on 21 June, the group (who, when combined, are active in over 20 Member States across the EU) implore policymakers to deliver an EU fisheries control system that ensures the legality of fishing activities at sea, and the full digital traceability of all fish and seafood products entering the EU supply chain, whether fresh or processed.
To prevent illegal products from entering the EU seafood supply chain, the signatories call for comprehensive and cost-effective monitoring and enforcement of control measures, notably through the mandatory use of remote electronic monitoring (including cameras) on all EU vessels above 12 metres as well as those at risk of catching large amounts of unwanted catches. This, they believe, will allow authorities to better monitor illegal discards (when an animal is thrown back into the sea) and the unwanted catches of endangered, threatened or protected species.
The companies also believe that effective traceability underpins the sustainability of fisheries products, as it secures transparency and accountability within the supply chain. The statement thus compels the EU to regulate the implementation of a robust digital traceability approach for seafood. Specifically, all the data elements necessary for a transparent supply chain must be effectively recorded by all actors involved, from the point of catch to the point of sale. This would help ensure that all fisheries products on EU shelves, whether fresh or processed, are sustainably, ethically and legally sourced.
The statement argues that such policy developments regarding effective monitoring and robust traceability systems are necessary for companies to deliver seafood that meets the highest standards of environmental sustainability, social responsibility and quality to the benefit of EU citizens, companies, and our environment.
* The revision of the Control Regulation, which has been underway since 2018, offers EU policymakers a unique opportunity to address the current shortcomings of the EU fisheries control system, which is intended to provide a system of monitoring, inspection and enforcement for fishing operations in EU waters and activities of the EU fleet globally. The revision is an opportunity to see that the Regulation finally delivers the traceability that processors, retailers and consumers demand. The European Parliament, European Council and European Commission must answer this call and agree on an ambitious and progressive revised Control Regulation.