‘Sustainability’ must be understood if Seafood Strategy is to work in Wales

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The Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs has made some inaccurate and misleading claims concerning sustainable seafood.

At the launch of the Wales Seafood Strategy in Cardiff, the National Procurement Service pledged to serve only ‘verifiably sustainable fish’ across the public sector – a commitment we at ClientEarth fully encourage.

However, during Seafood Week, Lesley Griffiths, the Cabinet Secretary, claimed that:

“With more than 75% of our coastline in Marine Conservation Area [sic] our seafood is, by its very nature, sustainably sourced. It is excellent news that the National Procurement Service has signed the pledge to ensure all fish used in the Public Sector in Wales is sustainably sourced.”

Yet this claim is inaccurate. ClientEarth Researcher Quentin Marchais said:

“Claiming that Welsh seafood is sustainably sourced because 75% of Welsh coastlines are protected is misleading. Marine protection and seafood sustainability can go hand in hand, but one does not necessarily result in the other.

“It would be great to see Wales committing to healthy and resilient seas through both properly managed, protected areas and responsible sourcing of seafood.”

As part of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC), UK businesses across the seafood supply chain developed minimum standards for responsible sourcing and environmental claims.

These provide clear and consistent meaning to sustainability claims on seafood sold in the UK. To claim seafood is sustainably sourced, SSC members ensure it is certified to a third party standard or equivalent. This would cover criteria such as stock health, bycatch, management practices and impacts on the environment.

Photo: Alex Brown

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