Visserij Verduurzaamt was created in the Belgian fisheries sector to recognize the sustainability efforts of Belgian shipping companies in marine fisheries. The Visserij Verduurzaamt recognition, which has been visible on the auction clock in Belgian auctions since June 2018, shows for each batch of fish whether a minimum sustainability threshold has been met and whether the fisherman is on a trajectory to do even better. The recognition is based on an objective and scientifically based tool that can measure and make visible the sustainability of fishing activities. In addition, Visserij Verduurzaamt aims to be able to use the existing recognition system further down the chain to the consumer as well.

Recognition for corporate responsibility

The theme of sustainability is ubiquitous in the news. People are being urged to live more and more sustainably, and this includes sustainable consumption. Under this increasing social pressure, the modern Belgian fishing business is increasingly striving to become more sustainable. Thus, the Belgian fishing industry has taken the initiative to create a specific recognition for responsible and sustainable fishing for the Belgian fleet.

Objective tool to measure efforts

Supported by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and major fish (wholesale) traders, the Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) developed, in close collaboration with the Shipmaster's Office, an objective and scientifically based tool that can measure and visualize the sustainability of fishing activities: the VALDUVIS sustainability score.

What exactly is being measured?

Environmental, social and economic sustainability are taken into account when calculating the VALDUVIS score.

They include the state of fish stocks, fuel consumption, animal welfare and the health and safety of the crew on board. In all, there are 11 indicators, on which data are collected, including through logbooks of Belgian vessels, European fisheries advice and annual accounts.

valduvis star chart

To measure is to know

The information from the VALDUVIS system is used to communicate to buyers through a recognition on the auction clock. The 'Visserij verduurzaamt' recognition illustrates which vessels are actively cooperating in the sustainability process of the Belgian fishing fleet and is only granted under certain conditions.

Individual monitoring of shipowners for sustainability

Virtually the entire fleet participates. ILVO researchers annually calculate the sustainability score and closely monitor the efforts made. Individual meetings are held with the participating shipowners to discuss the scores and to work together on a process of improvement. To participate in the project, shipowners must meet a basic standard and sign a declaration of commitment to strive for a higher score.

Together toward sustainable fishing

"The aim of the initiative is certainly not to exclude less sustainable vessels, but to work collectively, in a structured and incremental way towards improved sustainability. The fact that this effort is now recognized on the clock means a lot to shipowners, but also to buyers, as they are demanders for sustainably caught fish. With the new recognition, there is now traceable information on sustainability from vessel to auction," said Geert De Groote, chairman of the Shipowners' Association.

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