UK - The British Ports Association (BPA) and Seafish are working together to develop a potential new certification programme for commercial fishing ports and auctions in order to improve transparency and raise standards in the seafood industry.
The Responsible Fishing Port Standard will provide assurance to seafood sellers and buyers that all certified or engaged fishing ports and auctions are acting in a responsible manner with the seafood landed and sold through the market.
The standard is likely to cover a range of areas including hygiene levels, quality maintenance, traceability, fish grading compliance, waste management and recycling, environmental controls and services such as electricity, ice and storage.
The rationale behind the standard comes from an increasing need for assurances of transparency across the full seafood supply chain and the fishing port, and auctions were identified as an area that would benefit from guidance on industry accepted best practice.
Over the past few months, Seafish and the BPA have been speaking to a range of fishing ports, fishermen and the supply chain across the UK to canvass their views and discuss how the standard needs to be developed to provide benefits to all sectors.
Chief Executive of Grimsby fish market Martyn Boyers, who also chairs the BPA’s Fishing Ports Group which covers all of the major fishing ports in the UK, said: “The aim of the Responsible Fishing Port Standard is to provide fishing ports and auctions around the UK with consistent guidance on the regulatory and environmental issues that affect the whole industry and improve standards. Many of the ports in the UK operate individually and we believe a new standard will bring some uniformity and structure to their individual operations.”
The standard will complement other standards recognising best practice within the industry including the Responsible Fishing Scheme, which has recently been redeveloped by Seafish to certify fishing vessels demonstrating best practise in catching methods and crew welfare.
It is hoped the Responsible Fishing Port Standard will bridge the perceived traceability gap between the fish being landed and processed, and boost the reputation of the sector.
Tom Pickerell, Technical Director at Seafish, said: “As part of the scoping project, we will continue to work closely with the ports and supply chain to develop a set of objectives that this standard will achieve and establish how it will complement the existing Responsible Fishing Scheme to develop confidence in the auctions and fish markets for buyers and sellers.”
The Responsible Fishing Port Standard will be discussed at the next BPA’s Fishing Ports Group meeting in October, where a decision will be made on how to develop the scheme going forward.
TheFishSite News Desk