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

Media release

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Some of the biggest seafood businesses in the UK have come together to call on the Government to enshrine sustainable fishing in law following Brexit.

Businesses from the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) have joined forces, calling on Environment Secretary George Eustice to make vital changes to the Fisheries Bill and seize a pivotal opportunity to develop world-leading sustainable fisheries management.

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.

In a 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 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.

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.

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.”

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, of which environmental law organisation ClientEarth is the secretariat, 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.


About the SSC

The Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) is an association of businesses that sell seafood in the UK. We work together to agree voluntary industry standards on environmental sourcing and labelling, and collaborate to solve sustainability challenges. The Codes of Conduct that underpin the SSC were written by a multi-stakeholder group including NGOs, retailers, processors, brands and restaurants.

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