Organic Consumers Association

Seafood Trade Group Supports Ecolabeling

ARLINGTON, Virginia, January 29, 2003 (ENS) -

The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) has told the Commerce and State Departments that it supports eco-labeling standards developed by the international Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Eco-labeling refers to the certification and labeling of fish and seafood that is harvested or raised in a sustainable manner.

Various private sector organizations and companies now purport to certify or sell sustainably produced seafood products using different standards, leading to consumer confusion about what such standards represent, NFI warns. NFI, a non-profit trade association representing companies involved in all aspects of the fish and seafood industry, told the two federal agencies that the lack of objective and accountable standards for such labeling could result both in some standards being set too low, to the detriment of fishery resources, while others may be set too high, hampering the ability of fisheries to contribute to sustainable food production.

NFI asked the Secretaries of Commerce and State to support a set of voluntary technical standards for sustainable fisheries developed by the FAO, a United Nations agency, that would serve as the basis for third party certification and labeling for all fish and seafood products in the marketplace. "These standards would benefit producers and consumers in developing and developed countries, and provide an important public sector initiative to address overfishing and depletion of marine resources," said Justin LeBlanc, NFI vice president of government relations. NFI also urged the United States to encourage the FAO to undertake this work at the FAO Committee on Fisheries meeting next month. NFI is the nation's largest seafood trade association.

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