2021 Key finding

Companies must step up to address illegal fishing

Our results show no progress since 2019 in the number of seafood companies that have an approach to assess Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) risks. However, we saw an increasing number of companies with serious commitments to traceability, a key tool to bar entry of IUU products to markets.

The majority of companies do not comprehensively assess IUU risks

The SDG target 14.4 to eliminate IUU fishing by 2020 has not been met. IUU fishing is a huge challenge for the seafood industry, which can only be tackled through joint efforts between governments, civil society and the private sector. Companies can support those efforts through policy advocacy to improve monitoring and surveillance on board vessels but also by barring market entry to products from IUU fishing operations by conducting regular IUU risk assessments and implementing electronic and robust traceability systems. Like in 2019, two third of the companies do not demonstrate a comprehensive approach to reduce IUU risks in their supply chain.

Traceability is the backbone of a legal, responsible and sustainable industry

Robust traceability underpins claims that a seafood or aquaculture feed company makes about the origins of raw material in its seafood products and aquaculture feed. To qualify as robust, a traceability system must include mechanisms to verify the information used and inputted into the system along the whole supply chain. Traceability systems, when designed according to a set of robust criteria such as the GDST, are key for capturing product data that meets both market and regulatory requirements. Governments and the private sector both have a role to play in developing and implementing robust traceability systems.

Since 2019, some progress was made in terms of commitment to traceability with 40% of companies with specific commitments to traceability in 2019 to 50% this year, mostly to the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) standard, which was released in March 2020. However, when asking companies what traceability systems they currently have in place, responses revealed different levels of ambition. Some companies think of traceability as legal requirement in order to comply with food safety regulations and with import regulations (e.g., the United States Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP). While others go beyond legal compliance by aiming for certifications that require chain of custody audits. However, given the limited disclosure on this topic, it is difficult to know how the industry is currently performing.

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Sustainability strategies need to be followed by concrete targets

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