Your sushi is still in danger. A Finfish study, published by the EU Fish Processors and Traders Association in December of 2013 has the goal of providing the information needed to allow for a sustainable and consistent fishing industry for EU member states. It is a study published annually for over 20 years, and is a tool for creating legislation and regulations in the EU fishing industry. The study is a whopping 71 pages, chock full of scientific language which makes it lengthy to read through – so we’ve done the work for you, and here are the key points and conclusions of the study that may affect your sushi enjoyment.

The key findings of 2013 are generally negative. The total market supply has dropped by 13.7 million tons, quota utilization has deteriorated, and the EU is facing increased international competition which makes environmental regulations increasingly unpopular. This is the first time since the EU27 (which saw the addition of Bulgaria and Romania and spanned 2007-2013) that the available supply of fish has declined. However, the study is not overtly negative, and remains confident that the EU fish and seafood market can continue to support itself without recession.

The EU has found out just how complex the fishing industry is. This study follows a trend in having trouble with the sheer scope and complexity of the industry, with large variations in prices both international and nationally as well as the convoluted path that seafood takes from the sea to your dinner plate. Gone are the days, unless you are lucky enough to live in a fishing community, of fresh fish being brought in for dinner. Nowadays, fish passes through a complex web of suppliers, pounds (especially for shellfish) and international distributors before it reaches the consumer. This makes it difficult to regulate and trace whether or not seafood is sourced sustainably. One of the positives that this study sees is the effectiveness of EU-IUU regulations which were made to deal with this very problem.

EU-IUU regulations were created to ensure that fish being imported into the EU (and caught by EU member states) are sourced in a way that is environmentally sustainable as well as legal. IUU fishing, or illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, is the biggest threat to fish stocks globally. Started in 2008, this regulation has now become “a firmly established feature of the international trading environment,” and has served to label countries not willing to cooperate as “non-cooperating third world countries in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing”. The EU, a multinational body which serves the interests of all member states does not suffer from the same limitations of a one-state approach to regulations. When you are talking about a global commodity which requires everyone in the world to fish sustainably, the EU is a key part of the sustainability effort, and its decisions will have a direct effect on the availability of particular fish that is commonly eaten as sushi.

If you would like to read more about the study, you can see it straight from the source. The study findings are published for free at The European Fish Processors Association.

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