Hugh’s Fish Fight has done a fantastic job in raising awareness of discards. Back in January, when it kicked off, we welcomed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign for motivating everyone within the industry who cares about sustainability.
Generating momentum, and inspiring consumers to try a wider variety of seafood, Fish Fight has shown what can be achieved with the support of celebrity chefs. We applaud the progressive approach to Common Fisheries Policy reform and we recognise Fish Fight’s role in influencing this. But discards is just one of the many challenges that have to be tackled to ensure the long-term sustainability of fish supply. For us, the fight to support sustainable practice in fisheries doesn’t stop here. Our fish fight continues.
Well managed eco-systems are critical to ensuring we have bountiful sources of protein, healthy people and healthy societies. Not only does fish play a critical role in the health of our nation, it also plays an important role in food security. We must protect this vital resource.
We don’t just suggest that fisheries around the world engage in sustainable practices as they work towards Marine Stewardship Council certification. We sit down with them and share our expertise and experience of the certification process.
For example, we supported Saemark for four years as the export and marketing business worked to achieve MSC certification for its fleet of long line and Danish seine cod and haddock vessels. Earlier this year, this resulted in the first MSC certification in Iceland, and ensured that Sainsbury’s was first to market for high-quality MSC-certified Icelandic cod and haddock. In the past we supported the Eastern Baltic cod fishery in achieving MSC certification and we’re working with other fisheries to this end.
This approach is a long-term commitment for us, but at the same time, it is important that we all recognise the importance of ensuring we have a sustainable aquaculture industry. Fish farming will play an increasingly important role as a rising global population and environmental factors impact the world’s food supply.
The further development and growth of this industry will be critical in ensuring that fish remains an affordable, quality, source of protein for all in the future. Through our Fish for Life programme and our 10 Principles for Responsible Fish Procurement, we work closely with producers to proactively drive up standards in aquaculture as well as in wild-caught fisheries.
The fish industry is a truly global industry, and there is amazing work taking place in fisheries and fish farms all around the world to encourage improvement and sustainable practice. Europe already consumes about two times the fish it produces, but UK consumers do not yet eat the level of fish recommended by the government. With this in mind we should be very wary of any move towards imposing discriminatory measures on fish imports into the EU. Such a move could scupper work to encourage sustainable practice overseas and potentially sink the European fish processing sector.
As our fight goes on, we hope that consumers, customers and the supply chain continue to support sustainable practice in fisheries and fish farms around the world.
Leendert den Hollander is chief executive of Young’s Seafood.