SeaBOS chair chair Therese Log Bergjord says eliminating IUU fishing is a critical step towards sustainability. Photo: Skretting.

Salmon farmers join new call to end illegal fishing

Salmon farmers Mowi and Cermaq today joined a call for new action to end illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing by denying IUU fishers a place to land or sell their fish.

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They are among companies belonging to Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS), which wants a combination of private sector and government actions to help transform the transparency and accountability of seafood supply chains and block landings of IUU catch.

SeaBOS is one of five organisations encompassing more than 150 companies which have issued a Statement on Traceability and Port State Measures, aimed at giving those involved in IUU fishing nowhere to land their fish and nowhere to sell it.

Robust control measures

The other groups are 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 joint statement calls on companies worldwide to endorse ground-breaking new industry standards released by the GDST last year as the foundation for a worldwide system to improve seafood traceability.

It also asks governments to ratify and implement robust control measures aligned with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA), an international treaty that requires port inspections and other measures to prevent IUU catch from being brought ashore.

Peter Thomson: Ending IUU fishing is essential to ensuring a sustainable blue economy.

‘Nowhere to land’

“There must be nowhere to land and nowhere to sell fish and seafood that is caught illegally,” said Fijian diplomat Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean and co-chair of Friends of Ocean Action.

“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 emphasise that this is a critical target of the Sustainable Development Goal for the Ocean, SDG14.”

SeaBOS chair Therese Log Bergjord, the chief executive of salmon feed manufacturer Skretting, said: “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.

“We cannot stand by and wait. SeaBOS is united with GTA, GSSI, GDST, and ISSF to secure the future of our ocean.”

Bill DiMento: Industry and governments must act together.

Value chain is aligned

Bill DiMento, sustainability chief for North American seafood processor and marketer High Liner Foods and chair of the GSSI steering board, said: “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.

“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.”

SeaBOS says IUU fishing steals millions of tonnes of fish from the ocean each year, robbing honest fishers of their livelihoods and taking billions of dollars out of national economies.

The economic loss to IUU fishing is valued at between $10 billion and $36.4 billion annually.

People trafficking

According to SeaBOS, IUU fishing is a threat to food security for the one billion people who rely on fish as their principal source of protein. It is also a threat to national security for coastal nations – vessels engaging in IUU fishing practices often also traffic in drugs, arms, and human beings.

SeaBOS is a collaboration between scientists and seafood companies across the wild capture, aquaculture and feed production sectors, coordinated by the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.

Members include Nissui - which owns Salmones Antartica in Chile - Thai Union, South Korea’s Dongwon Industries, and Cargill Aqua Nutrition.