Otherwise known as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishery products, ‘pirate’ fishing is estimated to cost up to $23.5bn (€20.6bn)a year – and involves up to 26bn tonnes of fish.
Issued by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), WWF-UK and the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), the report says almost 30% of global fish stocks are overfished, and overfishing and other unsustainable fishing practices have depleted nearly all commercial fish populations in many parts of the world.
It includes eight recommendations, including increasing transparency and traceability of fish supplies, requiring all large fishing vessels to have unique identification to enable satellite tracking, improving port controls to prevent influx of ‘pirate’ fish supply, and establishing in the EU a centrally coordinated database of fish catches.
BRC director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said: “Our practical guidance will help all retailers and manufacturers ensure this fish does not enter our supply chains. This is a great example of British retailers using our expertise to influence global sourcing for the benefit of all and hope the principles will be adopted by other food companies abroad.”
European regulation to prevent illegal fish from entering the EU market came into force in 2010, requiring catch certificates for imports and exports and banning the import of fish from states and vessels known to be involved in illegal fishing.
Prior to the regulation, an estimated €1.1bn worth of illegal fish entered the region each year.
WWF-UK said: “The EU’s enforcement of the IUU Regulation is unique globally, but it is currently being unevenly implemented and more needs to be done in the UK to ensure its success.”
The EU is the world’s largest importer of seafood by value, accounting for 24% of the global total.
The advisory note is available to download here.