New code of practice for tackling illegal fishing and depleting fisheries

Montevideo, Uruguary – February 2017: Illegal fishing boats captured in coastal waters are stranded and left to rust in the ship’s graveyard in the capital city’s harbour.

BSI, the business standards company, has launched a new code of practice for importers and processors of seafood on how to navigate the murky waters of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Globally, over half of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, and a further 30% over-fished. BSI’s new code of practice, PAS 1550:2017 Exercising due diligence in establishing the legal origin of fishery/seafood products and marine ingredients – importing and processing – code of practice, lists recommendations on how to check that seafood products being imported or processed within the EU are legally sourced.

Recommendations include what the seafood sector should do to ensure decent labour and employment conditions in the sector, and what traceability systems should be used to verify source claims. An organization handling seafood should have systems in place to manage critical aspects of legality – including processes, information verification, and transparency.

Issues concerning the supply chain, and the responsible management of fisheries, are covered, with guidance on how an organization can avoid sourcing seafood from vessels which appear on blacklists. The code of practice also includes a dedicated section on social and ethical responsibility.

Developed with support from the Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the WWF, among others, PAS 1550 is intended to be used alongside existing regulation concerning illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. EU regulation specifies that there is a regulatory requirement to undertake due diligence on whether or not seafood which is caught in or imported into the EU has been legally caught, transported and processed. PAS 1550 helps guide importers and processors of seafood through this process.

As well as importers and exporters of seafood, the PAS is relevant to authorities and other entities – such as NGOs, industry associations and certification bodies – where it can provide a benchmark for developing a due diligence system and provide information on the expectations of processors and importers.

David Fatscher, Head of Market Development for Sustainability at BSI, said: “Fishing and aquaculture provide over 250 million jobs world-wide. PAS 1550 was created to provide guidance to organizations which import and process seafood. The code of practice includes a sample risk-assessment checklist to guide them through what can be a complex process.”

PAS 1550 includes an extract from the International Labour Organization Work in Fishing Convention and background information on the minutiae of EU market rules. The code of practice applies to all aquatic ingredients sold into the retail, food service or any other sector that contain aquatic items – including, for examples pharmaceuticals and pet food.

The following organizations were involved in the development of PAS 1550: British Retail Consortium; ClientEarth; Environmental Justice Foundation; FishWise; Food and Drink Federation; Human Rights at Sea; Lovering Foods Ltd; Marine Management Organisation; MRAG Ltd; Oceana; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Seafish; UK Seafood Industry Alliance; Tesco Stores Limited; Wm. Morrison Supermarkets plc; WWF.