Fisheries certifications are a relatively new practice that is used as a protective management strategy for sustainable exploitation of fish stocks and natural resources, thus ensuring long-term access to fish for future generations. Essentially, the power is transferred to the consumer, when consumers choose certified products it encourages environmentally friendly practices that have minimal impact on marine ecosystems. Certified products are labelled with eco-labels (tags) on their packaging that indicates the product has been produced with good practices, while ensuring the consumer the origin of the product consumed.
In 2005, certified catches only accounted for 0.5% of world production, while today that percentage has increased to 14% of the total profit of certified products globally which amounted to $11.5 billion, displaying increasing trends 10 times greater than conventional fish catches.
Iceland is the second largest fishing power in the South Western Atlantic Ocean after Norway, one of the largest in the world. The fishing industry collectively contributes to ± 27% of the country's GDP (2011) to around 1.5 million tonnes annually. Fishery products (fresh and processed or remade) surpass more than 40% of the total exports of Iceland. Based on the above and the booming demand for certified catches by importing countries such as United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, France, Portugal and Italy, the Iceland Responsible Fisheries has completed certification 4 Catch (mainly various species in Greece that we know as cod, as the Gadus morhua [Cod] 2010, Pollachius virens [Saithe] and Melanogrammus aeglefinus [Haddock] in 2013, and the Sebastes norvegicus [Golden Redfish] in 2014), while underway are certification procedures for additional 4 catches. Iceland uses a complex but effective management of fish stocks, grounded exclusively on scientific knowledge, which aims to protect fish from overfishing and depletion. Particularly interesting is the fact that both the establishment of Iceland Responsible Fisheries and the request of the opening of conformity-use in Iceland was initiated by the fishing industry itself. Shareholders which are in the Icelandic Responsible Fisheries Company are themselves fishermen, associations and companies.
In February 2017, iSea travelled with the Fair Trade Hellas to Iceland for a six day visit. Iceland is a fairly large island but very sparsely populated, located in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, in one of the most productive marine areas of the planet with important fish stocks.
The visit funded by the EEA Grant Programm “We are all citizens” implemented by the Bodossaki Foundation. The aim was to exchange knowledge and practices on sustainable fisheries management and empowered our knowledge on fisheries ecolabels by the pioneer company Iceland Responsible Fisheries.
In the context of the initiative several workshops took place in the offices of Iceland Responsible Fisheries and Islandsstofa in στο Reykjavík. In the end possible further collaborations btetween iSea, Iceland Responsible Fisheries and Fair Trade Hellas were discussed.
As a next step iSea along with Fair Trade Hellas are planning actions to inform the Greek public about the fisheries certifications and the benefits they offer.
Picture from the trip can be found here.
From left to right: Kalliopi Garuffali (FairTrade Hellas), Hrefna Karlsdóttir (IRF), Ioannis Giovos (iSea), Finnur Garðarsson (IRF), Vaggelis Paravas (iSea)