Press release New covenant for sustainable fishing: from deck to plate and launch of 'Visserij Verduurzaamt' accreditation
Flemish Minister for Fisheries Hilde Crevits, the Rederscentrale, Natuurpunt, the ILVO, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Province of West Flanders have signed in Ostend the new Flemish covenant for sustainable fisheries 2021-2025 "On course for sustainability". The six partners commit themselves to work on sustainable, qualitative and fresh local fish and thus contribute to the objectives of the European Green Deal. The ambitions of the new covenant are situated on three different levels: protecting the natural and social environment, producing and processing the fish catch at sea, and consuming and communicating to the consumer.
"Our fishermen vouch for quality fish from the decks of their boats right to our plate. Together with our partners, we give sustainability great importance. Sustainability in terms of fishing, but also in terms of good conditions and safety for the crew and correctly informing the consumer. With this third covenant, we will continue on this path in the years to come. Fishermen and nature conservationists enter into dialogue to increase the knowledge of the ecosystems at sea. Fishermen collect data at sea for scientific research, after which scientists can process these into clear recommendations for the fishermen. In this way, our Flemish fishery can continue to evolve in a sustainable manner and guarantee consumers fresh fish with a high score in terms of quality and respects the biological environment at sea.” - Hilde Crevits
Visserij verduurzaamt or "Towards more sustainable fishing"
With the two previous covenants, numerous innovative projects have already been set up, such as the 'Valduvis' project. Consumers are increasingly consciously choosing sustainable food products. To respond to this, in June 2018, the 'Fishing Sustainable' recognition was launched on the auction clock in all Belgian auctions.
This recognition is awarded to shipowners that make sufficient efforts in terms of sustainability. It is based on objective and scientific sustainability criteria by a research team from ILVO.
Due to considerable interest from the trade, further steps were taken to expand the existing recognition system and to also use it on the market. This concerns the first buyer, the processor, the contractor, the subcontractor and other intermediaries on the road between the first point of sale and the consumer. If they meet all the requirements according to an audit, they too will receive a certificate for one year. The first audits have now been successfully completed and the first certificates have been issued to the 'Visserij Verduurzaamt'-recognized operators.
Interested operators can register with the Redercentrale (Shipowners' Association) through the revamped "Visserij Verduurzaamt" website (www.visserijverduurzaamt.be). Also restaurants, caterers or government services and companies offering fish meals can register. On the new website there is also an overview of all certified operators and shipping companies. Through 'Lekker van bij ons' VLAM helps consumers to make a conscious and sustainable choice for seasonal fish caught by our fishermen and a variety of recipes are offered (www.lekkervanbijons.be/vis).
Lancelot Blondeel - ILVO: "'Visserij Verduurzaamt' gives us the framework to guide shipowners towards a better sustainability score and to make these efforts known through a market recognition."
Sander Meyns - Rederscentrale: "Through 'Visserij Verduurzaamt' certified traders can guarantee consumers that they offer fish from fishing vessels that meet sustainability standards. "
Flemish Minister of Sea Fisheries Hilde Crevits: "Today, together with several partners, we are signing a social covenant for sustainable fishing for the third time. The previous covenants resulted in a sustainability recognition for the efforts made by our fishermen. Today we give the starting shot to guarantee to the consumer that 'Fishing Sustainable' fish comes from fish catches that respect all sustainability standards. The central message of the covenant "On course to sustainability" 2021-2025 is this time visually represented by a compass. A clear signal that this covenant is a solid direction that sets course towards more sustainable Flemish fisheries."