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New Eco-assured Standard for Irish Wild Fisheries

IRELAND - Bord Iascaigh Mhara has announced a new eco-assured standard for the wild fisheries sector in Ireland.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Fisheries at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Tony Killeen, T.D., has officially launched a new wild fisheries eco-assured standard for the Irish fisheries industry.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board as the holder, developer and manager of assurance schemes for the Irish seafood sector has developed its existing Quality Seafood Programme (QSP) to encompass wild caught Irish fish. This will enable industry to clearly label their produce as Irish fish caught or farmed to the highest quality standards using responsible fishing and environmental practices. To ensure the entire supply chain is certified under the scheme, BIM is calling on fishermen, co-ops, processors and retailers to apply for the standard.

The extension of the BIM QSP to encompass wild fisheries actions a key recommendation set out by the Irish Seafood Market Initiative Group (ISMIG) set up by Minister of State Killeen last year. Chaired by BIM, the group consisting of industry representatives was formed by the Minister to determine actionable outcomes which will maximise opportunities in the Irish seafood market for the Irish fishing fleet, processors and retailers.

Jason Whooley, BIM’s CEO explains the benefits of the standard for industry; ‘As the guardian of Assurance Schemes for the Irish seafood industry, BIM has revamped and extended the existing Quality Seafood Programme to ensure Irish wild caught fish is clearly identified as Irish and caught using responsible fishing practices.

In these difficult economic times, it is vital that Irish seafood is differentiated to protect our fishermen and to ultimately build a recognisable mark to enable consumers to make an informed purchase whilst supporting Irish fishermen and suppliers. If critical mass is achieved, this standard will raise the bar for the Irish fishing sector which will benefit the entire supply chain and the coastal communities which rely on this important indigenous industry for job and wealth creation’

The eco-assured wild fisheries standard is third party independently accredited to EN45011-ISO 65 which is the ‘gold’ standard for product certification. In order to apply for this standard, Irish fishermen, co-ops, processors and retailers must satisfy the requirements of the BIM Seafood Stewardship Standard, a national standard also accredited to EN45011; ISO 65 and ratified by the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB). Applicants will also have to provide evidence that they are adhering to a recognised Environmental Management System (EMS).

The Wild Fisheries Stewardship Standard is built upon the principles of Quality, Provenance and Responsibility and includes elements on care of the catch, traceability and provenance, environmental management and education and awareness.

A number of fishermen and co-ops are already engaged in the Wild Fisheries Stewardship Standard and 56 vessels are currently implementing BIM’s Environmental Management System which demonstrates the industry’s commitment to not only adhering to strict quality standards but to ensuring vessels are run using environmental management and responsible fishing practices.

To ensure Irish seafood carries the eco-assured standard, Minister of State Killeen is calling on the Irish fishing industry to apply for the standard; ‘I welcome the new eco-assured standard that BIM is now offering Irish fishermen which will enable consumers to make informed choices about the fish they eat.

This new standard will give consumers assurances that the fish they purchase was caught using responsible fishing practices on a vessel that follows a clear environmental management system. I believe that consumers need to be informed about the fish they are buying and this standard will differentiate Irish fish under BIM’s Quality Seafood Programme from other fish on the market, including imports whose provenance is very often not known to consumers. I fully support BIM in the development of this standard and I would encourage all fishermen, co-ops, processors and retailers to apply for the standard so we can collectively drive the industry forward’.

the Fish Site Editor

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