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Consumers Want Fish Labelling

SWEDEN - Nordic fisheries ministers are calling on the industry in the region to introduce environmental certification for its catches in a bid to promote sustainable development.

More and more consumers are now demanding that products should be labelled with information about, for example, where the fish was caught.

A declaration adopted by the Ministers for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Agriculture, Food and Forestry (MR-FJLS) at their meeting in Växjö on 25-27 June included a statement about the labelling of fish.

The ministers, chaired by the Swedish Minister of Agriculture, Eskil Erlandsson, welcomed increased consumer awareness of the need to promote the sustainable use of fish stocks. One example of this is increasing consumer interest in fish labelling.

The ministers welcomed local and regional initiatives by the fishing industry to certify and label fish. The declaration also calls upon Nordic fisheries co-operation to establish a Nordic labelling network.

The meeting also discussed a study into fish labelling conducted by Norwegian Veritas on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

A large number of labelling schemes already exist for fisheries and aquaculture. The report mentions, for example, Swedish KRAV and Norwegian Debio as positive schemes.

One reason that the question of sustainable and ethical fishing has been topical recently has been the cod situation in the Baltic. Swedish organisations and consumers have boycotted Baltic cod because of perceived over-fishing.

The meeting also adopted a declaration about seals in the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic.

The ministers are worried that the EU will introduce a ban on seal products.

They are calling upon the EU to consider the seal a resource.

The EU Commission will make its decision on the import of seal products in July.

The seal declaration stresses that seal products possess healthy properties but also points out that the mammal represents a threat to the fishing industry in certain areas, where they destroy equipment and catches.

According to the declaration, it is important to strike a balance between conservation and the sustainable use of seal stocks.

The Växjö meeting was organised within the framework of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Sweden holds the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2008.

Ellen Hardy

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