The North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA) – a collective of 50 retailers and supply chain businesses working together to secure sustainable management of key pelagic stocks – has started the clock on three-year countdown to certification-ready pelagic fisheries.
In correspondence to NEAFC Heads of Delegation in the past days, NAPA has announced the launch of an innovative policy FIP – designed to drive political will for cooperative decision-making and secure sustainable management for key pelagic stocks. The novel policy FIP covers Northeast Atlantic mackerel and Atlanto-Scandian herring – two stocks which recently lost MSC certification due to ongoing disagreements between Coastal States actors, leading to unilateral quota-setting.
According to NAPA, this is an unacceptable threat to the sustainability of these key stocks, and one which has major implications for the market’s purchasing decisions.
‘It is vital a collaborative, long-term approach to managing key pelagic stocks is in place, which in turn will help us to meet the commitments to our consumers to provide ethical, sustainable products. The policy FIP is an excellent vehicle for us to drive this and we would urge Coastal States to think of the FIP as a ‘business plan’. Ultimately, the market needs to be comfortable with the management of these stocks to ensure a future supply base and promote healthy oceans,‘ said Co-op Fisheries and Aquaculture Manager Aisla Jones.
Following the news that Norway had unilaterally increased its own quota by over 100,000 tonnes – shortly followed by a quota increase by the Faroe Islands – NAPA has announced the launch of the policy FIP for the first time. Representing wholesalers, food service businesses, aquaculture producers, feed companies, suppliers and processors, NAPA’s position is that the market won’t continue to tolerate horse-trading and actions that they consider to threaten the overall sustainability of pelagic stocks.
While traditional Fishery Improvement Programmes (FIPs) focus on the need to enact data collection or develop management strategies, the NAPA policy FIP acknowledges that the pelagic stocks covered, NEA mackerel and Atlanto-Scandian herring, are in the unusual position of being data-rich, well-understood and with proposed management strategies published. The barriers to enacting sustainable management centre around decision-making and political will: hence the ‘policy’ focus of the FIP.
‘Horse-trading and unilateral quota-setting is not responsible management. NAPA as a group are calling for political barriers to be put to one side, and for Coastal States to make a simple, responsible decision: to follow the established science,’ said Project Lead Dr Tom Pickerell.
‘With long-term, sustainable management in place these key commercial stocks can continue to thrive, and NAPA members can serve the global marketplace with confidence and security. Our goal? That Coastal States come together and enact science-based, responsible management.
NAPA, which has been working on NEA pelagics sustainability since 2019 as a collective, has developed a similar tool for a third key stock: blue whiting. Yet to be launched, but in the immediate pipeline, this is a NAPA MarinTrust improver programme for this important aquaculture feed-stock.
‘This shows the organisation and ambition of the marketplace in signalling the need for sustainable management: NAPA is focused on three stocks, and we have improvement programmes outlined for all of them – they will be independently audited, and we will hold ourselves to account as we strive to hold Coastal States governments to account,’ Tom Pickerell commented.
‘Should an agreement between Coastal States prove impossible, then individual supply chain members will be forced to re-evaluate their purchasing of these pelagic stocks.’