small-scale fisheries development Liberia Africa

Support for Ecolabelling

Sustainable Fisheries Management, Tanzania, Africa

International trade in fisheries is worth over US$60 billion annually and fish is fastest growing internationally traded agricultural commodity. A combination of population and income growth in key markets, as well as health concerns, work to maintain the general global demand for fish. As a consequence fish prices are generally moving upwards, maintaining the interest and investment in fishing and aquaculture. 

Small-scale fisheries can make important contributions to national development but many are under threat from over fishing, rising costs of production and ecosystem degradation. Countries are a consequence revisiting policy and management and interest in ecolabelling as a management tool is growing. 

As part of CSR policy, retailer’s are aiming more and more to source fish from sustainable supplies. On the other hand there is a shortage of sustainable fisheries and retailers predict a growth in demand for ecolabelled product will grow in the future.

In support of ecolabelling, a 3 month study was carried out for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to develop the understanding of trade from developing country small-scale fisheries to developed eco-sensitive country markets. The information from the study was used to inform the MSC’s strategy to promote developing country, small-scale fishery participation in its ecolabelling scheme. The study involved interviews with major retailers and importers in the UK and Germany as well as research in Senegal, Gambia, Vietnam and Morocco. Key objectives were to:

  • Assess the current market situation and marketing opportunities for ecolabelled seafood products from small-scale developing country fisheries in developed country markets;
  • Provide an overview of supply chain characteristics for seafood products from small-scale fisheries from selected developing countries to some key developed country markets;
  • Identify possible constraints to marketing of products from certified small-scale fisheries;
  • Provide a basis for the development of a more focussed internal strategy to promote developing country, small-scale fishery participation in the MSC.

Study recommendations centred on potential small-scale fisheries, market access, awareness raising and information, market development, pilot-programmes, monitoring and evaluation, certification issues and partnership ideas.

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