Seafood industry wants Northeast Atlantic coastal states to compromise on pelagic fishery catches
Setting catch levels for Northeast Atlantic pelagic stocks above the established scientific advice year-on-year is an unacceptable threat to shared-stock fisheries, the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA) has warned fisheries ministers ahead of next month’s North Atlantic Coastal States Meeting 2021.
In an open letter to coastal states ministers and their delegations, NAPA states that its collective – as a major purchaser of Northeast Atlantic pelagics – wants to see coastal states taking a leadership position and commit to science-based management of Northeast Atlantic mackerel, Atlanto-Scandian herring, and Northeast Atlantic blue whiting.
It calls on the ministers, as decision-makers in the management of these fisheries, to ensure that the science-based catch limit recommendations from ICES are followed, to implement management plans with stakeholders agreeing to and working toward long‐term sustainable objectives, and to resolve the allocation issues around these stocks with the re-establishment of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) Working Group on Allocation as a first step.
NAPA said that as a body representing more than 40 retailers, foodservice companies, and suppliers from inside and outside the European Union, it wants to “underscore in the strongest terms” that the current situation in the Northeast Atlantic is unsustainable.
The inability of coastal states to follow the scientific advice and reach agreement on quotas has thus far resulted in the loss of Marine Stewardship Council certification for these stocks, it said, adding that the inaction from politicians is driving the supply chain to rethink its purchasing decisions.
“Fisheries is a complex world. This decision is simple,” it said.
Labeyrie Fine Foods said if these fisheries continue to fail to deliver the requirements of its sourcing policy and cannot agree on quota allocation and the implementation of an effective dispute mechanism, it would reevaluate its sourcing choices with a view to only select coastal states championing sustainability that actively support NAPA.
Aquaculture feed company Skretting, another NAPA member, said it wants NEAFC coastal states to agree quotas in line with scientific advice and implement a long-term science-based management plan for blue whiting. Should progress falter, or the fisheries improvement project fail, Skretting will continue its stand to not source fishmeal containing uncertified blue whiting, it warned.
Similarly, seafood firm Aquascot it is keeping a close watch on the negotiations on Northeast Atlantic pelagic stock-sharing.
“In the event of a failure of the blue whiting FIP, Aquascot will review our sourcing policy for feed used by our Scottish salmon farming suppliers and will aim to source this product only from coastal states that are reviewing their fishery management plans in line with NAPA’s recommendations,” the company said.
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