The North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group is challenging the North-east Atlantic Coastal States to take seriously their sustainability commitments.
This collective of more than 60 global retailers, food service companies, and suppliers with the shared aim of sourcing sustainable and certified seafood states that the governments of the concerned coastal states have all made clear, public pledges to sustainable fisheries and the environment that NAPA states are not being met.
‘What will it take for the Coastal States to work for the common good – and meet their own sustainability commitments?’ a NAPA representative asked.
This challenge follows the publication last month of a voluntary stock-take of progress in implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted by the United Nations in 2015, the SDGs are a collection of seventeen interlinked objectives designed to serve as a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
Commitments to sustainable fishing have been made by all seven Coastal States engaged in Northeast Atlantic pelagic fisheries through the adoption of the SDGs, in particular SDG 14 Life Below Water.
The EU noted in its recent communications that Significant progress [has been] achieved under the Common Fisheries Policy, but sustainability levels have yet to be reached for all fisheries and Progress is being made towards sustainable fishing in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean.
NAPA is calling on the Coastal States to step up and take concrete action to rectify the fundamental management flaws that are fuelling overfishing in the Northeast Atlantic – in step with their own pledges to deliver the SDGs.
‘Fisheries around the world are under pressure and we should be able to look to the Coastal States for leadership on responsible and sustainable management of shared fisheries resources, such as mackerel, herring and blue whiting – especially when three of the States are represented in the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy,’ said Dr Dave Robb, Sustainability Programme Lead at Cargill, one of the NAPA partners.
‘These politicians need to put their words into action, or their commitments to ocean stewardship and the broader SDGs are hollow.’
Against the backdrop of the EU’s conclusions that positive progress has been attained for Life below Water, overexploitation remains a protracted issue in the Northeast Atlantic.
The Coastal States – of which the EU is one – who are responsible for the shared management of Northeast Atlantic mackerel, Atlanto-Scandian herring and blue whiting, have fished these species above sustainable limits for more than a decade, according to NAPA.
‘As a result, in 2019 and 2020, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification was suspended for all three stocks due to poor governance and inadequate management. Blue whiting also latterly lost its MarinTrust certification, which is conditional upon the MSC standard,’ NAPA states.
‘NAPA Partners have SDG-related targets and objectives, and fisheries certification offers a credible, impartial tool to demonstrate we meet our ambitions to contribute to a healthy planet for future generations. Loss of certification is impacting on our progress against the SDGs, as well as casting doubts as to how we can source sustainably from European fisheries’ Dave Robb commented.