Around the world, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing puts fish stocks, human rights and marine ecosystems in peril. Largely out of sight, IUU fishers steal millions of tonnes of fish from the ocean each year and take billions of dollars out of national economies. They also pose a threat to the responsible fishers and fishing nations who supply the fish and seafood in markets across the world and that billions rely on for critical protein and nutrition.
“This challenge can only be addressed if players across the seafood sector act in concert,” writes co-director Jim Leape in a new World Economic Forum (WEF) Agenda blog.
The blog piece highlights a joint statement out today from five of the most influential industry and multi-stakeholder platforms in the seafood sector — Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS), the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA), the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), the Global Dialogue for Seafood Traceability (GDST), and the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI). Taken together, these organizations include more than 150 retailers and seafood companies across the globe.
Developed with support from COS and the Friends of Ocean Action (FOA), the statement calls for industry and governments to join forces to create transparency and accountability in seafood supply chains and to block landings of IUU catch. In particular, the coalition members are endorsing new standards developed by the GDST as the foundation for a worldwide system that allows buyers to trace fish from point of origin to point of sale, and signaling that they will increasingly look to source their fish from ports that are implementing effective controls. The coalition members also call on governments to do their part – to implement port controls that are aligned with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA), and to share information on their own fishing fleets, to enable effective enforcement.
“There must be nowhere to land and nowhere to sell fish and seafood that is caught illegally,” said Ambassador Peter Thomson, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean and Co-Chair of the FOA. “I applaud this initiative by seafood sector leaders, urge others to support their efforts in 2021, and call upon all countries to work towards full implementation of PSMA. Ending IUU fishing is essential to ensuring a sustainable blue economy and the maintenance of a thriving ocean.”
Today’s statement is part of COS’s “Addressing Illegal Fishing and Labor Abuses” initiative. It is supported by COS research, including studies that identified high-risk ports for illegal fishing and elucidated the policy and legal challenges in using new data sources to enforce port controls.
“Five years ago, in adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, the 193 Member States of the United Nations committed to bringing an end to IUU fishing,” writes Leape. “Today, leaders from across the seafood sector are saying that if industry and governments act together – to create transparency across global supply chains and to establish strong controls in ports – they can deliver that goal.”