Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group hits out at Young’s over Northeast Atlantic pelagic stance

Published on
October 21, 2021
The Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group is criticizing Young's Seafood for its broad stance on sourcing its Northeast Atlantic pelagics.

The pledge made by U.K. seafood company Young’s to stop sourcing mackerel, Atlanto-Scandian herring and blue whiting from Northeast Atlantic fisheries if these stocks continue to be fished in excess of the scientific advice issued by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has been criticized by the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG).

On 19 October, 2021, Young’s issued a sourcing statement via the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA), declaring that it considers the unilateral setting of quotas to be an unacceptable threat to these shared-stock fisheries.

Delivered ahead of the North Atlantic Coastal States Meeting for 2022 catch allocations, it warned that while it is “fully committed” to playing a role in finding a solution to the management challenges of the fisheries, “the unfortunate consequence of this situation remaining unresolved and total catches continuing to be in excess of the ICES advice, is that Young’s would cease sourcing from these fisheries.”

In direct response, SPSG, which was established in 2006 to oversee the certification of several Scottish fisheries to the Marine Stewardship Council standard, said that it is “deeply disappointed” by Young’s statement and its vow to discontinue sourcing from the fisheries, explaining that not all of the region’s pelagic fisheries are catching excessive volumes.

“In this statement, Youngs’ appear to be making no differential on sourcing from those countries doing the right thing, such as the U.K., who continue to fish sustainably and within historic shares and all fished within our own waters. This compares starkly with some of the northern countries who have set huge quotas, aren’t fishing all their quota, and are doing so unregulated in international waters,” SPSG Chairman Ian Gatt said. “Given this background of disparity, SPSG is deeply disappointed by the Young’s statement, and we urge that the company, along with other seafood suppliers who may shortly be deciding upon their sourcing policies, give due recognition to those nations who are fishing responsibly.”

According to the latest advice from ICES, the 2022 catch for Northeast Atlantic mackerel should be no more than 794,920 metric tons (MT), which represents a 6.7 percent reduction from its 2021 catch advice. For Atlanto-Scandian herring, the council has recommended the catch should not exceed 598,588 MT, an 8 percent reduction from this year’s advice, while the advised 2022 limit for blue whiting is no more than 752,736 MT, some 19 percent lower than the 2021 advice.

NAPA, which represents over 40 supply-chain members, has been calling on Northeast Atlantic coastal states to put aside national interests and commit to sustainable management measures, with a number of NAPA members stating that they will be forced to reevaluate their purchasing decisions if management agreements are not implemented.

Photo courtesy of Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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