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ClientEarth Communications

8th September 2020

Fisheries & Seafood
Wildlife & habitats

UK’s biggest seafood businesses urge Government to put sustainability at heart of Fisheries Bill

As the Fisheries Bill returns to Parliament, some of the biggest seafood businesses in the UK have come together to call on the UK Government to enshrine sustainable fishing in law following Brexit.

Businesses from the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC), of which ClientEarth is the Secretariat, have written a letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice calling for vital changes to the Fisheries Bill.

The Fisheries Bill is a core piece of the UK Government’s legislation on post-Brexit policy, setting out a framework for UK fisheries management for generations to come. This is a pivotal opportunity for the UK to develop world-leading sustainable fisheries management and make changes to existing ineffective policies.

Towards more responsible management

In the letter to the Environment Secretary, SSC businesses argue that the current ineffective management of fisheries limits the ability of UK fishing communities to sell to responsible UK businesses. It also impacts the availability of sustainably sourced seafood for consumers.

Instead, a more sustainably-minded Fisheries Bill could reduce reliance on imports, strengthen ties between national fisheries and seafood businesses, and improve responsible sourcing across the board, boosting the health of our oceans and their precious resources.

The businesses are calling for:

  • Sustainable fishing limits that are legally binding, in order to prevent overfishing;
  • Robust monitoring and enforcement to better aid vital data collection and ensure compliance with the rules; and,
  • Sustainable management of shared stocks - essential given that the UK shares over 100 stocks with the EU alone.

The letter is signed by 22 of the UK’s leading supermarkets, brands and processors, including: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose & Partners, Marks & Spencer, The Co-op, Morrisons, Lidl GB, Bidfood, Young’s, and Whitby Seafoods.

Opportunity for UK leadership

Melissa Tillotson, Aquaculture & Fisheries Manager at Waitrose & Partners, said: “The opportunity to manage shared stocks - that represent such an important element of UK fisheries - based on international law, robust sustainability and scientific evidence should be at the heart of the Bill.”

Helena Delgado Nordmann, Responsible Sourcing Manager – Marine at Tesco said: “The Fisheries Bill represents a great opportunity to improve the UK’s fisheries management. The implementation of fully documented fisheries by Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) will bring the evolution on transparency and traceability that we need. We are very keen to see this reflected in the new legislation.”

Sustainability and the SSC

These business are members of the SSC, which is an association of businesses that sell seafood in the UK. They work together to agree to voluntary industry standards on environmental sourcing and labelling, and collaborate to solve sustainability challenges.

SSC Coordinator Oliver Tanqueray said: “SSC members want to see stronger legislation to ensure sustainable fishing practices are enshrined in law. The UK should be leading on this issue and not falling short of international best practices. Consumers are demanding sustainable seafood – to be able to source this from UK waters, businesses need to see better management of our fisheries.”

Members of the coalition operate under the guidance of their Codes of Conduct, collectively written to underline shared commitments to responsible sourcing. As a result, the SSC has helped approximately three quarters of all seafood sold in UK supermarkets to be labelled and sourced responsibly.