The Expert Panel on Legal and Traceable Wild Fish Products is a multi-disciplinary expert group convened to promote a global framework for ensuring the legality and traceability of all wild caught fish products. The panel was established in early 2013 to identify complementary regulatory and private-sector mechanisms for overcoming common obstacles to establishing such a framework. Panelists represent stakeholders including U.S. and European processors and retailers, and NGOs, as well as experts in traceability, fisheries management, and fisheries trade.

The Panel was organized by WWF and facilitated by RESOLVE, with research and drafting support from California Environmental Associates. Funding for this work was supported by the Oceans 5 funder collaborative and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The Panel has reached consensus on eight key recommendations to achieve its vision for fully traceable and demonstrably legal fish products. These recommendations are captured in the Panel’s report and presented in a webinar recording here.

The Panel’s Vision
“We seek a world in which all fishers, processors, traders, retailers, and consumers of wild-caught fish can be reliably assured that all fish products are legal and fully traceable. We envision a global framework – based on an appropriate combination of private sector and governmental mechanisms – that ensures the legal provenance and ‘boat-to-plate’ traceability of fish products, thereby reducing incentives for illegal fishing while promoting socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable fisheries.”

Panel Statement on Release of Report
“As several of the world’s leading food distributors, environmental NGOs, food science institutes, and seafood industry experts, we have joined together to call for a set of specific actions to ensure that all wild-caught fish products are fully traceable to legal fishing activities[...]

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As several of the world’s leading food distributors, environmental NGOs, food science institutes, and seafood industry experts, we have joined together to call for a set of specific actions to ensure that all wild-caught fish products are fully traceable to legal fishing activities.

Fish stocks in every ocean are subject to widespread and sometimes illegal overfishing. Fortunately, a growing number of seafood companies are already acting to ensure they can trace the products they sell back to the boat, and that the fish they purchase are caught legally. Meanwhile, governments around the world are considering new rules to halt commerce in illegal fish products. But with seafood being fished and traded globally, better coordinated business systems and government policies are needed to put affordable and effective solutions within reach.

A panel of experts from our organizations has worked together and in consultation with outside specialists to identify cutting edge solutions that combine regulatory and private sector approaches at both national and global scales. We believe that the panel’s report sets out a solid vision based on pragmatic technical analysis that can serve as strong basis for action towards concrete solutions. By achieving a world in which all fish products are fully traceable to legal sources, we can help conserve ocean ecosystems and secure sustainable fish supplies for the future of the seafood industry and of the communities around the world that depend on fish for food and livelihoods.

To see the full statement from the Panel, please click here.

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