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Seafood giants join forces to combat pirate fishing in the Barents Sea


Oslo/Amsterdam, International — Eight of Europe’s largest and most influential seafood companies (1) have signed and addressed a joint letter to the Norwegian government (2), committing to do their best to avoid illegal Barents Sea cod and have called on the Norwegian government to provide up to date black lists so companies can live up to this commitment. The signatories include some of Europe’s largest seafood processors and purchasers such as restaurant chain McDonalds as well as Espersen, Royal Greenland, Youngs Seafood and Iglo/Birds Eye, Frosta/Copack.

Greenpeace has welcomed the move as an important step towards industry responsibility in seafood sourcing, and called on all other companies of the sector to follow suit and make clear commitments to avoid fish from blacklisted vessels as soon as possible.

In their letter, seafood majors commit to adhere to voluntary industry guidelines adopted by the European Fish Processors and Traders Association (AIPCE) last September (3). The guidelines were drawn up to avoid Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) Barents Sea cod and haddock. They also include a commitment to refuse all fish from vessels blacklisted by Norway or relevant regional fisheries management organizations like the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). Figures published by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES) last year indicated that every fifth cod from the Barents was illegally fished (4).

”The Norwegian government is asked to update their current blacklist and ensure that all vessels that are proven to be engaged in pirate activities are actually listed, not only a small subset of the known offenders,” said Truls Gulowsen Greenpeace Nordic campaigner. “Publicly accessible and up to date records are crucial to ensuring the industry lives up to its promises. For example, the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate has not yet published any of the Russian ships that were documented in IUU activities in 2005 and 2006.”

Greenpeace commends the leadership by these companies on the Barents Sea IUU issue but warns that they still have a long way to go for their customers to be confident that their products do not contain illegal fish or fish from unsustainable sources. Pirate fishing is estimated to take approximately 25% of the global fish catch annual in lucrative business worth some $9 billion a year.

“Issues such as over-fished and illegal Eastern Baltic cod, destructive fishing techniques like bottom trawling and reliance on severely depleted and often also illegal tuna still cast dark shadows over the image and future of the seafood sector, including several of the letter-writing companies,” said Sari Tolvanen Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner. “Full transparency of the product chain must be ensured for the end customer to know that the fish he buys comes from a legal source.”


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