BIM, Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, launched a new certification standard to drive sustainability in the Irish Fishing Sector, at the Skipper Expo International trade show in Galway today, Friday 3rd March.
The BIM Responsibly Sourced Seafood Standard is a third party accreditation that certifies fishing vessels that adhere to strict criteria regarding Care of the Catch, Traceability and Provenance, Training, Welfare and Social Sustainability.
Michael Keatinge, Interim CEO, BIM said: “The Irish Seafood Sector and in particular the catching sector understands the ever increasing need to actively demonstrate their commitment to responsible fishing practices. With 7 fishing vessels certified under the updated Responsibly Sourced Seafood Standard and a target of 40 by year end; 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.”
With seafood exports valued at €557 million in 2016 and domestic sales of seafood reaching €239 million, the demand for seafood continues to grow. BIM is working directly with fishermen, fish farmers, processors and retailers through an integrated sustainability programme to ensure the Irish sector operates responsibly and in doing so increases its profitability.
For a traditional industry, the seafood sector has already made significant progress with Ireland’s largest co-op, Castletownbere Fisherman’s Co-op receiving the top accolade of ‘Green Business of the Year’ at this year’s Green Awards.
BIM is also working with fishermen and producers through local Fishery Improvement Programmes (FIP’s). These programmes aim to improve the long term sustainability of fisheries over time with volunteers agreeing to engage in specific actions that work to preserve the fishery. The activity of FIPs underpins the BIM Responsibly Sourced Seafood Standard. The aim of the FIP is to meet the sustainability standards set by the Marine Stewardship Council and they also enhance producers and processers access to markets that now demand sustainability credentials. Four fisheries have been identified for the first phase of development; brown crab, whitefish (hake, monkfish and megrim), nephrops and albacore tuna.
Another simple but very effective initiative is the BIM Fishing for Litter programme. With five ports participating (Clogherhead, Killybegs, Castletownbere, Union Hall and Ros a Mhil) and another 3 ports expected to participate this year, the programme enables fishermen to collect marine litter in heavy duty Fishing for Litter bags that can be brought ashore for appropriate disposal and recycling. In 2016, close to 8 tonnes of waste was collected and disposed of from the marine environment. The Fishing for Litter programme links in with BIM’s existing Net Recycling programme and since 2005, has recycled 600 tonnes of fishing nets.
Social Sustainability is another key element in BIM’s Sustainability programme and to demonstrate this at the Skipper Expo, BIM have teamed up with ReCreate, a national social enterprise, to divert certain fishing net materials aimed for landfill to be repurposed towards creative projects. Clean and unused net cut offs provide inventive art materials and ReCreate provide these art materials to groups that may not ordinarily have access to supplies. To date, ReCreate has provided over 500 tonnes of materials that have been re-used by over 5,000 children’s art and play projects. BIM are encouraging fishermen to donate clean materials to the programme. The workshops are open to kids of all ages and are taking place in BIM’s Coastal Training Unit at the Skipper Expo show in the Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill on Friday at 3.30pm and on Saturday at 11am and at 2.30pm.