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Round Table on eco-labelling and certification in the fishing sector

The Round Table on Eco-labelling and Certification in the Fisheries Sector was jointly organised by the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and the OECD Committee for Fisheries.

At the invitation of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the Round Table was held in The Hague, The Netherlands, on 22-23 April 2009. The Round Table brought together representatives from: the fishing industry (producers, processors, buyers, and retailers), NGOs, eco-labelling schemes, certification bodies, academia, governments, and relevant international organisations. 

Over the past decade eco-labels and related certification have become a feature of international trade and marketing of fish and fish products. Eco-labels are a market-based mechanism designed to provide incentives for more sustainable fisheries management by encouraging buyers, from large scale retailers to individual consumers, to only purchase fish and seafood certified as having come from a sustainable fishery. Commitments to sustainable fish sourcing have become increasingly common in the procurement strategies and corporate social responsibility strategies of large-scale retailers and commercial brand owners.

Eco-labelling and certification schemes are typically designed and managed by non-governmental organisations (NGOs or private businesses). They cover a range of product claims from benefits for fish safety and quality, to improved legality, transparency and sustainability. However, they raise a number of issues and challenges. Are they really making a difference for fisheries sustainability? Which schemes are the most effective? How are the costs and benefits of eco-labels distributed along the value chain? How do they interface with the role of public authorities in ensuring sustainable fisheries management and the protection of natural resources? The Round Table on Eco-labelling and Certification in the Fisheries Sector offered an opportunity for the range of stakeholders to debate these issues and to identify areas requiring further research or action.

Click here to read the Round table report on eco-labelling and certification in the fishing sector

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