Towards more sustainable fisheries
The sustainability of every batch of fish sold at all Belgian fish auctions is now indicated on the auction clock. A green zone on the clock informs potential buyers whether each batch meets the minimum sustainability standards and whether the boat owner is taking steps to improve their results. The project is called ‘Towards Sustainable Fisheries’. The market recognition is based on an objective and scientifically based tool that is capable of measuring and visualising the sustainability of fishing activities.
Recognition for social responsibility
Sustainability is an important social factor that is all over the news. That’s why the Belgian fisheries sector has developed a special recognition for the efforts of the Belgian fleet towards responsible and sustainable fisheries.
Objective tool to measure efforts
In a public-private collaboration, Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) and Rederscentrale (ship owners’ organisation) have teamed up to develop an objective and scientifically based instrument that measures and visualises the sustainability of fishing activities: the VALDUVIS sustainability score. This initiative was supported by Flanders Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as well as major fish retailers and wholesalers.
What is measured exactly?
The VALDUVIS score measures 11 indicators of ecological, social and economic sustainability. The state of the fish stocks, fuel consumption, animal welfare and the health and safety of the crew are all included. The required data is collected from the logbooks of Belgian vessels, European fisheries advice and financial statements.
Data is the key to knowledge
The compiled data from the VALDUVIS system is used to communicate to potential buyers by means of an indication on the auction clock. The ‘Towards Sustainable Fisheries’ recognition illustrates which vessels actively support the sustainability efforts of the Belgian fishing fleet and is only granted under certain conditions.
Individual follow-up of shipowners with an eye to sustainability
Almost the entire fleet is in. ILVO researchers calculate the sustainability score on an annual basis and monitor the relevant efforts closely. They meet with the ship owners to discuss the scores and determine improvement actions together. Participation is open to ship owners who meet a basic standard and sign a commitment to strive for a higher score.
Together towards more sustainable fisheries
“The intention is to work towards increased sustainability – not by excluding less sustainable vessels but rather to increase sustainability in a cooperative, structured and gradual manner. Making those efforts visible on the auction clock means a lot to the ship owners but also to potential buyers, as the consumer is demanding sustainably caught fish. Thanks to the VALDUVIS system, we now have information on sustainability from vessel to auction”, says Geert De Groote, chairman of Rederscentrale.