The EC should introduce a new ‘eco label’ for EU-caught fish, a senior EU fisheries politician has proposed in a key report on the Common Fisheries Policy reform.

Struan Stevenson, senior vice-president and rapporteur of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, made the recommendation at a high-level conference on Wednesday.

Providing consumers with clear, easily understood information on fisheries and aquaculture products was essential, Stevenson said. “We must sweep away the many differing and confusing eco labels that have emerged over the years, all making competing claims about the sustainability of catches and the eco-friendliness of products.”

By contrast, a clear, easily recognisable EU eco label bearing the European flag would be easily understood by consumers as “representing a sustainable catch”, Stevenson claimed.

A new label would be monitored by the Commission, “perhaps embracing criteria similar to the MSC”, and there would also be scope for extending the label to companies that export fish into the EU from outside “to ensure there is a level playing field”, he said.

Fish producers would be asked to adhere to minimum standards, similar to those that already applied to wine.

Stevenson’s recommendations will be submitted for consideration to the European Parliament’s fisheries committee in March. If the committee endorses the proposals, they will form the basis of the Parliament’s position on this aspect of CFP reform.

News of a proposed new EU eco label for fish comes after researchers from the University of Kassel in Germany recently concluded that consumers did not understand the mandatory EU label for organic food, which was introduced in July 2010.