The Northern Ireland Fishermen’s Federation (NIFF) hosted an event in Kilkeel on 7 December for the UK retailers and processors involved in the UK Nephrops Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) under Project UK.

The UK Nephrops FIP began in 2019 and is now on year four under Round 2 of Project UK, involving all UK administrations covering the Irish Sea, West of Scotland and the North Sea. It has largely been driven by retailers to meet their goals of selling only sustainably certified seafood – but the fishing industry is at the coalface in ensuring the needs of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Standard are met.

AstheFIPisduetoendin April 2024, NIFF recognised the need to discuss with retailers and processors some of the issues the Northern Ireland fishing industry is facing, potential solutions to these issues, and how Project UK will fit into all of this.

Ultimately, the purpose of this event was to create better dialogue between the Northern Ireland fishing industry and the sustainability representatives of the UK retailers, and to showcase the wealth of projects the Northern Ireland industry is involved in to achieve their sustainability and environmental responsibility goals.

A NIFF spokesperson said: “We are keen to engage with the sustainability officers and representatives within these organisations to communicate the multitude of projects that we, along with local stakeholders, have been developing from the ground up, and to discuss the initiatives the fishing industry and local processors in Northern Ireland are driving forward.”

“Sustainable, well-managed fisheries are becoming increasingly important to both consumers and the supply chain,” said Jo Pollett, senior fisheries manager at the MSC. “It’s great to see the Northern Irish fishing industry proactively taking steps to improve the sustainability and environmental impacts in their Nephrops fishery.

“By participating in Project UK, industry is using the MSC Standard as a tool for delivering improvements in the fishery, with the aim of meeting the requirements of the MSC Standard by the end of the fishery improvement project in April 2024.”

The MSC acts as the secretariat for Project UK.

A spokesperson for the Co-op added: “Responsibly sourced seafood is fundamental to our ambition and commitment to sourcing and creating products which care for people and the planet. We are pleased to be able to fund the Project UK Nephrops FIP to support the fishing industry in delivering actions to meet the MSC Fisheries Standard, and our aim is to offer our customers MSC-certified scampi from our local UK waters.”

Further discussions took place the following day between representatives of the Northern Ireland industry, fishery authorities, scientists and staff from the MSC to discuss fisheries management for the Irish Sea portion of the UK Nephrops fishery under the MSC standard.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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