Supermarkets and seafood industry press for action ahead of upcoming Fisheries Bill

UK retail and seafood sectors press for action The UK retail and seafood sectors are pressing for action on the upcoming Fisheries Bill

A group of prominent UK retailers and seafood industry companies have out their weight behind a demand for the British government to adopt and implement robust fisheries regulations effectively once the UK has left the European Union, just as government prepares new fisheries legislation.

Asda, BirdsEye, British Retail Consortium, Co-op, Direct Seafoods, Joseph Robertson, Lidl UK, Lyons Seafoods, M&S, Morrisons, New England Seafood, Sainsbury’s, Seachill, Tesco, UK Seafood Industry Alliance, Waitrose and Young’s, with conservation group WWF, have signed a Seafood Industry Statement with conservation group WWF.

The current regulations and new Fisheries Bill must deliver confidence that UK seafood is sustainably and legally sourced. The group also called on UK and devolved Governments to include strong monitoring measures in the new Fisheries Bill to ensure that there is more visibility of what is takes place on fishing vessels.

“As responsible buyers of seafood we work with fishermen and scientists to achieve sustainably managed fisheries,” said Nigel Edwards, who chairs the Seafood Industry Alliance.

“Fully documenting fisheries is an essential step to demonstrate robust fishing management. Our government is determined to lead in sustainable fishing, and has the tools at its disposal to make this happen. We urge them to take a bold lead in documenting our fisheries to ensure the reputation of UK fisheries as both exceptionally high quality and truly sustainable.”

The UK Government recently confirmed its commitment to eliminating discarding at sea in the 25 Year Environment Plan. The Landing Obligation comes into full effect next January. However, the 17 signatories to the statement say UK Governments can do more to ensure the fishing industry is prepared to properly implement this regulation.

Further efforts are required to achieve effective uptake of currently available technology and behaviour that can improve selectivity which will allow fishing vessels to avoid species for which they have no or limited quota. In addition improved measures are needed to provide better access to quota for such species.

The supermarkets, processors and industry groups are calling for changes in fishing methods and gear to ensure more selective targeting of commercial fish species,  improved monitoring of fishing vessels using technologies such as remote electronic monitoring, and a review of how quotas can be better managed to address the problem of discarding.
“The UK seafood industry has the potential to be world leading in both quality and sustainability,” said Peter Andrews of British Retail Consortium.

“However, if it cannot meet the terms of the landing obligation and is unable to monitor what fish are being removed at sea then we will be jeopardising that potential.”

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