“The traceability of fish products needs to improve”

Euro Coop: European consumers show a growing concern towards fish deriving from unsustainable catches. The traceability of fish products, included that of imported goods, should improve. With a lot of fish being used as feed in agriculture, the links between the CAP and CFP must also be made explicit – with stringent sustainability criteria, write Rodrigo Gouveia and Mikael Robertsson.

Mikael Robertsson & Rodrigo Gouveia

Consumer co-operatives and private retailers across Europe offer on their shelves a wide variety of fish and fish products. The investigation “Among Seahorses and SeaCamel – Coop analysis and strategy for a living sea”, carried out by the Swedish consumer co-operative in 2008 (see slides below), showed that fish and fish products intended for human consumption counted for just 48% of all wild catches for which Coop Sweden was responsible. The remaining percentage was feed for aquaculture; pig, chicken and egg production as well as discard.

Through Euro Coop (i.e. the European Association of Consumer Co-operatives), Coop Sweden has learnt that such figures broadly correspond to the experience of many other consumer co-operatives across Europe and that therefore they constitute a critical starting point to consider when shaping the future Common Fishery Policy (CFP). Also, due to the fact that a lot of fish is used as feed both for aquaculture and agriculture purposes, it may be argued that these data are also significant with respect to the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

On a European scale, Euro Coop demands therefore to make the links between CAP and CFP explicit and to move forward to include more stringent sustainability criteria for both policies following the cross-compliance principle. As regards then in particular the CFP reform, we call for a strong protection of the marine biodiversity as well as for a constant monitoring of the health of fish stocks in different areas. To this purpose, scientifically reliable data should be made available.

These requests are also in line with the needs and expectations of a significant number of consumers across Europe, who show a growing concern towards fish and fish products deriving from unsustainable catches. In this respect, Coop Sweden and Euro Coop deem that traceability of fish products, included that of imported goods, should improve, thereby allowing consumers to make informed choices regarding the quality of products. In addition to that, we call for a legislation on labelling that should report data which clearly indicate if the products are sourced from an overexploited stock or from one in good conditions. In fact, the ultimate goal should be that all available fish is supplied from sustainable sources and with sustainable methods. Placing all responsibility on the individual consumer would in fact mean a lower level of ambition in achieving such target.

Rodrigo Gouveia, Secretary General, Euro Coop
Mikael Robertsson, Environmental Manager, Coop Sweden

Euro Coop is the European Association of Consumer Cooperatives. Its primary objectives include representing to the EU institutions the interests of consumer cooperatives and their 29 million consumer-members across 17 European countries. For more information, please refer to the website: www.eurocoop.coop.

Coop Sweden is a Swedish cooperative grocery retail group and a member of Euro Coop.

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