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New Industry Guidance Helps French Companies Avoid Illegal Fishing

Lucy Towers
01 December 2016, at 12:00am

FRANCE - The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), SeaWeb Europe and WWF-France have released a detailed joint Advisory Note in collaboration with Carrefour to inform French industry, retailers and brands of the risks associated with illegal fishing.

Following the positive reception of a guide released last year by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), EJF and WWF-UK for the benefit of the UK supply chain, the French adaptation offers expert advice on source risk assessment and mitigation, and encourages action to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishery products entering French supply chains.

Illegal fishing activities currently cost the global economy an estimated US$10-23.5 billion every year – representing 11 to 26 million tonnes of fish, and such practices have been strongly linked to widespread and severe human rights abuses happening on-board fishing vessels.

Presented in Paris, France, the new advisory set out key recommendations including:

  • Strengthened transparency and traceability of seafood supply chains;
  • Support for the effective ratification of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement and ILO Conventions relevant for fisheries;
  • The introduction of IMO numbers or alternative Unique Verification Identifiers linked to a Global Record of fishing vessels;
  • Promote harmonization of import verification procedures across all EU Member States, including an electronic catch certification system.

EJF Executive Director, Steve Trent said: “After the success of our UK advisory note, we are excited to be launching similar guidance for French retailers as this represents a growing appetite for information on just where our seafood is coming from. Knowing where, and under what conditions, seafood is caught is vital for building legal and sustainable fisheries, and companies have a right to demand suppliers provide information on where products come from. It is time for major retailers, brands, importers and suppliers to take decisive action and push further for transparency and traceability in the seafood supply chain. By doing so they will be helping to eradicate illegal fishing, protect our oceans from its devastating impacts and support the poorest people on our planet who so often end up the victims of pirate fishing practices.”

Peter Andrews, Head of Sustainability, the British Retail Consortium said: "British retailers have been taking the lead in tackling the huge problem of illegally caught fish on the back of BRC and EJF’s practical guidance. We are delighted to see our collective expertise is influencing global sourcing for the benefit of all.”