Ministers challenged to take concrete actionNAPA has issued a warning to ministers that action needs to be taken

Ahead of Coastal States meeting to discuss the North-East Atlantic’s pelagic fisheries, a grouping of concerned companies has issued a challenge to ministers responsible for fisheries to take real and effective action on returning to responsible management.

The North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA) represents more than fifty retailers, food service companies and suppliers, and is continuing to expand. In its open letter to ministers, NAPA sets out that the barriers to achieving sustainable management are political ones.

“As a collective of businesses with a major share of Northeast Atlantic pelagic purchasing, the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA) is directly invested in the responsible, science-driven management of Northeast Atlantic mackerel, Atlanto-Scandian herring, and North East Atlantic blue whiting,” NAPA states.

“Setting catch levels above the established scientific advice for these stocks, year on year, is an unacceptable threat to shared-stock fisheries.”

NAPA member Skretting states that: “We are calling on the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) Coastal States to agree quotas in line with scientific advice and implement a long-term science-based management plan for blue whiting. … Should progress falter, or the FIP fail, we will continue our stand to not source fishmeal containing uncertified blue whiting.”

According to NAPA, the solutions are laid out in long-term management strategies, based on robust science and designed to ensure responsible, ethical, sustainable seafood for consumers.

NAPA’s warning to coastal states

“We want to see Coastal States taking a leadership position and committing to science-based management. As we approach the Coastal States meeting in October, we will be watching,” NAPA’s spokesperson said.

In its open letter to fisheries ministers, the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group warns that with no serious approach to rebalancing management of the three main pelagic stocks that have already lost MSC certification, major purchasers will be looking to take their buying power elsewhere.

“In the event of a failure of the blue whiting FIP, Aquascot will review our sourcing policy for feed used by our Scottish salmon farming suppliers and will aim to source this product only from Coastal States that are reviewing their fishery management plans in line with NAPA’s recommendations,” an Aquascot representative commented.

NAPA has laid out a three-stop process for its expectations, addressing its concerns specifically to ministers of fisheries around the North-East Atlantic.

“We are calling on you to direct your national delegate at the upcoming 2021 Coastal States and NEAFC meetings to follow the ICES advice, implement management plans and resolve allocation issues,” a NAPA spokesperson said.

“Collaborative, multi‐annual management should be the default approach when it comes to shared-stock fisheries. All stakeholders benefit from agreeing to and working toward long‐term sustainable management objectives. That includes responsible quota sharing arrangements and sustainable harvest strategies, a regular review process, and any necessary steps to transition to a new and robust system of long-term fisheries management. In short, use the information at hand to put systems in place to protect the environment, this valuable resource, and business confidence and security,” NAPA states.

The crux of the management issue has long been the challenge of coastal states failing to reach agreement on how to distribute the TAC between fishing nations, and NAPA stresses that contracting parties should prioritise resolving the allocation issues around these stocks and re-establish the NEAFC Working Group on Allocation as a first step. A dispute resolution mechanism is seen as vital at both the Coastal States meeting and NEAFC.

“As a body of over 40 retailers, food-service companies, and suppliers from across the world, we want to underscore in the strongest terms that the current situation in the Northeast Atlantic is unsustainable. The inability of Coastal States to follow the scientific advice and reach agreement on quotas has thus far resulted in the loss of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for these stocks” NAPA’s representative said.

“What’s more, your inaction is driving the supply chain to re-think purchasing decisions. Fisheries is a complex world. This decision is simple.”

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