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Dutch Retail Sector Commits to MSC and GlobalGap

NETHERLANDS - A consortium representing 99 Dutch retailers has pledged to market only Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified wild-caught fish and GlobalGap certified farmed fish by 2011.

The Dutch Association of Food Retail (Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelenhandel – CBL), which includes Albert Heijin, Laurus, C1000, Wholesale Super Unie and other companies with around 4 500 stores, made the announcement after a six-month review.

This move is part of a larger effort to improve sustainability in the retail sector.

GlobalGap has standards for farmed salmon at present and standards for farmed shrimp, tilapia and pangasius catfish are being farmed.

CBL members are planning to shift all farmed fish purchases to GlobalGap certified products by 2009. In addition to the MSC and GlobalGap commitments, the CBL is working to develop interim improvements in fish harvesting methods.

Reacting to the decision of the retailers, Gus Pastoor, President, of the Dutch Seafood Processors Association, said while the idea behind the decision is wonderfully ambitious, getting everyone currently involved in the industry to speed up by 2011 will be a major challenge.

The time table is rather tight. For both aquaculture and wild caught producers, it is going to be a lot of hard work, he added.

As the industry tries to meet the 2011 deadline, the challenges would be what seafood products will be left out altogether.

Although the current decision is to sell only MSC certified wild caught fish, many in the industry argue that other fisheries should be allowed, particularly if they manage to make large, verifiable steps towards sustainability.

Others say alternative sustainability certification schemes should be allowed, aside from the MSC.