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Driving sustainable fishing sector

March 13th, 2017 8:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

Frank Fleming, Responsible Irish Fish, discussing the new app they have developed to allow fishermen to manage and capture their documentation and records on board in real time with Dominic Rihan, BIM; Donal O'Sullivan and Jason Sheehan from Castletownbere Fisherman's Co-Op. This will link in with t

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BIM has launched a new certification standard to drive sustainability in the Irish fishing sector.

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. 

It was launched at the Skipper Expo International trade show in Galway on Friday, March 3rd.

Michael Keatinge, the interim CEO of 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 seven 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,’ he explained.

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 (FIPs). 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. 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 (Clogherhead, Killybegs, Castletownbere, Union Hall and Ros a Mhil) participating and another three 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 eight 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.

• For more information on any of the sustainability initiatives, visit www.bim.ie or to sign up for the BIM Responsibly Sourced Seafood Standard, email [email protected]

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