Ireland’s Seafood Develoment Agency has launched a certification standard to drive sustainability throughout the fishing industry. The BIM ‘Responsibly Sourced Seafood Standard’ is a third-party accreditation certifying fishing vessels that adhere to strict criteria regarding care of the catch; traceability and provenance, training, welfare and social sustainability.

FIP 2017

Michael Keatinge, BIM Interim CEO presenting certificates to Greencastle fishermen Patrick McClenaghan, Cyril Harkin and Adrian McClenaghan for their Responsibly Sourced Seafood Standard, at the Skipper Expo, Galway

“The Irish seafood sector and in particular the catching sector understands the ever-increasing need to actively demonstrate their commitment to responsible fishing practices,” remarked Michael Keatinge, interim CEO.

“This Standard will provide an independently certified raw material source that links in with the sector’s sustainability charter, Origin Green. This integrated approach to Irish seafood is vital for competitiveness, especially on our existing and emerging export markets, where sustainability is a key criterion for business,” he added.

Last year, seafood exports were valued at €557m and domestic sales reached €239m. BIM works with fishermen, fish farmers, processors and retailers through an integrated sustainability programme to ensure the Irish sector operates responsibly and by so doing, increases its profitability.

BIM also works with fishermen and producers through local Fishery Improvement Programmes (FIPs). These programmes aim to improve long-term sustainability with volunteers agreeing to engage in specific actions that work to conserve a fishery and underpin BIM’s ‘Responsibly Sourced Seafood Standard’.

The FIPs also enhance access to markets that demand sustainability standards. Four fisheries have been identified for the first phase of development: brown crab, whitefish (hake, monkfish and megrim), nephrops and albacore tuna. A further aim is to meet sustainability standards set down by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Seven fishing vessels have received certification; BIM is targeting 40 by year end.