The UK’s biggest seafood processor is threatening to stop sourcing fish from the North East Atlantic unless coastal states, including the UK and EU countries, fail to reach an appropriate agreement on population management this month.
Young’s Seafood has joined Tesco, Co-op, Princes, Aldi, Asda, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and other retailers and suppliers in calling for urgent action from ministers to manage populations of mackerel, herring and blue whiting in a more sustainable way.
For more than a decade, states fishing in the Northeast Atlantic have been unable to agree quotas within the sustainable limits set by scientists. The result was a decline in all three populations. In total, catches have exceeded sustainable limits by 4.8 million tonnes since 2015.
The crisis led the three fisheries lose their sustainable certification of the Marine Stewardship Council.
Young said disputes over catch quotas between coastal states including Norway, Iceland, Russia and the Faroe Islands are ‘risking the health’ of valuable fish populations and ‘causing companies to speak out ” On the question.
The society has written to mackerel-fishing nations, which are meeting in London this week to agree shared stock management for the three species, urging them to “put national interests aside” and agree to sustainable measures. It calls for following scientific advice, adopting long-term management plans and using dispute resolution mechanisms.
“Young’s considers that the unilateral setting of quotas is an unacceptable threat to shared-stock fisheries and that coastal states involved in these fisheries should support the conclusion of an agreement on the total allowable catch in accordance with ICES. [International Council for the Exploration of the Sea] advice and endeavor to obtain a long-term scientific management agreement”, company said in a statement.
The company is a founding member of North Atlantic Pelagic Defense Group (Napa), a coalition of 50 retailers and suppliers representing almost 250 billion euros (£210 billion) in purchasing power, set up after the loss of MSC certification for mackerel in 2019.
This year alone, quotas for mackerel, Atlanto-Scandian herring and blue whiting in the northeast Atlantic have been set above the scientifically advised limits of 41%, 35% and 25% respectively.
Napa marine biologist Dr. Tom Pickerell said, “We take too much every year. We’re not in the position yet where they’re overfished, but we’re headed in that direction if things don’t change.
The climate crisis has led to changes in the distribution of fish populations and each country has set its own unilateral quotas in its own interest.
Rupert Howes, chief executive of the Marine Stewardship Council, said: “The most worrying thing is that stocks are trending down and that’s why they lost MSC certification. There is a growing voice from the market, saying this needs to be fixed. »