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Why third-party assurance is needed to support sustainable seafood claims

Sustainability Certification

Third-party certification and national accreditation should be mandatory for making claims about seafood sustainability.

Paolo Bray, director of Friend of the Sea

So argued Friend of the Sea, one of the key certification standards for products and services that respect and protect the marine environment, at the 34th session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI), which took place last week.

“It’s truly an honour to be standing at this significant global event,” said Paolo Bray, director of Friend of the Sea. “COFI is a major forum for discussions of sustainable fisheries. For this reason, we felt it was an auspicious moment to make a statement about the importance of third-party certification. It is only with external audits that fish producers and consumers can feel confident that the industry is implementing environmentally friendly practices.”

The statement reads: “Friend of the Sea believes that current unregulated, uncontrolled and unverified seafood and ocean derived products’ sustainability self-and-second-party-claims are misleading consumers, generating unfair competition and preventing small scale producers to enter important markets. A standard’s recognition by the national accreditation bodies should be mandatory in order for producers to be authorised to make seafood and omega-3 sustainability claims. This process is widely accepted for organic and food safety standards worldwide. Friend of the Sea recommends governments to request standards’ recognition by national accreditation bodies and certification by accredited certification bodies as mandatory requirements for seafood and omega-3 sustainability claims.”

COFI is a subsidiary body of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) Council. It was established by the FAO Conference in 1965. COFI is the only global inter-governmental forum where FAO members meet to review and consider the issues and challenges related to fisheries and aquaculture.