Federation joins condemnation of “corrupt” fish trading – Fishupdate.com

Federation joins condemnation of “corrupt” fish trading Published:  29 January, 2008

BACKING for a major clampdown on corruption in world fish trading came today from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.

Commenting on a statement from the World Conservation Union (IUCN) on illegal fishing, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Federation, said damage to the reputation of the fishing industry by illegal practices elsewhere “rubs off on us all.”

Mr Armstrong said that in Scotland there was a responsible fleet, of the right size, catching to sustainable quotas.

He went on: “It has taken a lot of very painful sacrifice to get there and we are not happy that our reputation and the markets in which we compete are distorted by corruption in other places.

“The strong message is – when you buy Scottish fish you are getting the best product from an industry which takes its responsibilities very seriously. Such measures as: the completely auditable reporting of catches, a rigorously enforced compliance regime, the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme and the gold-standard certification of an increasing number of Scottish fisheries by the Marine Stewardship Council.

“We would urge consumers to use their purchase of Scottish seafood as a vote against corruption elsewhere.”

According to the IUCN, corruption in fisheries is increasing against a backdrop of declining fish stocks and increased consumer demand, and it “taints” all aspects of the fishing industry, from the scientific evidence that quotas are based on, to the mislabelling of fish.

A series of briefings released today ahead of a key meeting about corruption in fisheries shows that consumers are unwittingly sucked into the subterfuge as they do not realise exactly which species of fish they are buying. Not only may species be mislabelled, but some products are falsely marked “ecofish”, which undermines sustainable seafood campaigns, the IUCN says.

“The large-scale occurrence of corruption adds insult to injury,” said Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme Carl Gustaf Lundin. “The world’s global fish stocks are already severely depleted by overfishing and this is just making the situation worse.”

Fisheries corruption undermines the ability of scientists to know how many fish are removed from the oceans, causing inaccurate stock assessments. Fisheries managers are therefore far more likely to approve total allowable catches that are higher than those that would be based on sound scientific advice, the IUCN adds.

“Scientists’ evidence is not being taken into consideration when it comes to management decisions on fisheries and quotas,” said Deputy Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme, Andrew Hurd. “Fisheries managers should be held accountable when ignoring scientific advice.”

The IUCN is organising a Fisheries and Corruption meeting, hosted by the World Bank, in Washington to identify all the points where corruption happens from the hook to the dinner plate and find solutions.

At the meeting, IUCN will be calling for better enforcement of current rules and laws, better tracing of fish, the introduction of satellite tracking of fishing vessels and better labelling of fish.

The meeting will be held on January 30 and 31 at the World Bank in Washington DC and will be co-chaired by the Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme, Carl Gustaf Lundin.

www.fishupdate.com is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.