Over 150 companies endorse statement calling for increased seafood traceability

Leading seafood companies across the globe – and the supply chain – have come together to issue a statement urging the rest of the industry and governments to take action on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The statement, organized by five major industry collaborations, calls on the seafood industry to adopt the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) standard, and for governments to ratify the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).

The five major industry groups releasing the statement are the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS), the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA), the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST), and the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI).

“The world’s largest seafood companies understand the need to make the industry more sustainable. Eliminating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities is a critical step in that process,” SeaBOS Chair Therese Log Bergjord said. “We cannot stand by and wait. SeaBOS is united with GTA, GSSI, GDST, and ISSF to secure the future of our ocean.”

The economic loss attributable to IUU fishing is estimated at between USD 10 billion and  USD 36.4 billion (EUR 8.2 billion and EUR 30 billion) annually. IUU fishing also has a significant impact on the food security of one billion people, who rely on seafood for their main source of protein.

“I applaud this initiative by seafood sector leaders, urge others to support their efforts in 2021, and call upon all countries to work towards full implementation of FAO’s Port State Measures Agreement. Ending illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is essential to ensuring a sustainable blue economy and the maintenance of a thriving ocean. I wish to emphasize that this is a critical target of the Sustainable Development Goal for the Ocean, SDG14,” Friends of Ocean Action Co-Chair and United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean Ambassador Peter Thomson said. “There must be nowhere to land and nowhere to sell fish and seafood that is caught illegally.”

The development of the GDST standard, the pre-competitive platforms supporting it, and this new statement all represent a relatively new type of industry leadership that aims to help the seafood industry deal with large-scale problems like IUU fishing and implementing the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. SeaBOS, GSSI, and ISSF have signaled their intent to help the entire industry by supporting the science and helping develop responses to some of seafood’s biggest challenges  – such as IUU fishing.

“The value of our coalition’s collaborative call to action cannot be overestimated. Real change for more sustainable fisheries can only come through unified and consistent appeals to the world’s fisheries managers,” ISSF President Susan Jackson said. “And it is an approach that accelerates the speed of needed change. ISSF is pleased to partner with GTA, SeaBOS, GDST, and GSSI on this important effort.”

The statement outlines an ambitious set of goals for the signatories. The overarching goal is establishing transparency in global seafood supply chains, which requires robust controls in ports where seafood is landed or transshipped.

“Aligned with our commitments to traceability and sustainability, therefore, we call on governments to do their part through the implementation of port state measures that are aligned with the requirements of the Port State Measures Agreement, to ensure that illegally-caught fish cannot enter the market,” the statement reads. “We believe that if industry and governments act together, fishers engaged in IUU activities will have nowhere to land or sell their catch.”

Aquaculture companies have also signaled support of the statement and the implementation of the PMSA.

“Securing full transparency and traceability in the marine value chain is a key priority for Cermaq, and this initiative will have a significant impact on the global seafood sector,” Cermaq CEO Geir Molvik said in a release.

The sustainability goal is a high target, but in addition to IUU's sustainability impacts, it also represents a business issue for participating companies.

“Sustainable seafood, including tuna, is paramount to our customers and thus to our business, and eliminating IUU is an essential precursor of sustainability,” METRO AG Director of Corporate Responsibility and Industry Chair of the GTA Andrea Weber said. “Accordingly, we are enthusiastic to support this collaboration – both as METRO but also on behalf of the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA). Being a member of the GTA, we are committed to improving supply chain interoperability and ensuring that the fish we sell is legally sourced. Adopting the GDST standards, and the implementation of robust port state measures will help us achieve this.”

Beyond adoption of the GDST standard, the signatories have also committed to:

  • Greater due diligence of port state measure (PSM) implementation for ports where product is being landed, with particular attention to ports that have been found to be associated with a higher risk of IUU catch or products entering the market.
  • Supporting government efforts to build capacity and adopt practices consistent with PSMA standards in ports where catches are routinely landed or transshipped for company supply chains.
  • Signaling that in the future the companies will increasingly give preference to sourcing fish that have been landed or transshipped at ports implementing the PSM aligned with the requirements of the PSMA.
  • Exploring how public platforms for vessel data can support effective implementation of port state measures, while taking relevant confidentiality requirements into account.

The statement also calls on governments to go beyond ratifying and implementing the PMSA through the following actions:

  • Ensuring information about all internationally operating vessels under the country’s flag has been uploaded to the FAO Global Record of fishing vessels by June 2021.
  • Ensuring that all regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) have adopted PSMs that are aligned with PSMA requirements.
  • Ensuring timely exchange of operational data on fishing activities – including data from automatic satellite location devices, transshipment reports, and catch data – to enable efficient risk assessment, inspection, and timely processing of vessels scheduled to enter port and/or offload product.

“GSSI’s vision is more sustainable seafood for everyone. Reducing, and ultimately eradicating, IUU fishing is essential to achieve this and requires industry and governments to act together to prevent IUU fish from entering value chains,” High Liner Foods Vice President of Corporate Sustainability and Government Affairs and GSSI Steering Board Chair Bill DiMento said. “This collaborative call to action shows actors from across the entire seafood value chain are aligned and ready to work together to address this. GSSI is proud to be part of this.” 


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