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Automated and differentiated calculation of sustainability for cod and haddock products

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Sustainability of cod and haddock products calculated

Over the last 10 years environmental issues have become more and more important for the seafood industry and its value chain as consumers and retailers wish to know whether stocks are managed sustainably. A new approach to documenting whitefish caught in European seas will help provide sustainability and environmental information to potential customers

Climate Change and Environment

European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) connected with the whitefish catching and processing industries are under pressure as stocks dwindle and stricter regulations are imposed. They also face stiff competition from cheaply farmed species like tilapia and pangasius, which are imported from Africa and Asia. With the help of EU funding, the WHITEFISH (Automated and differentiated calculation of sustainability for cod and haddock products) project developed a method for documenting the desirable characteristics of whitefish caught in the north-east Atlantic. Such documentation sheds light on the sustainability of fishing, thereby boosting the competitiveness of the European cod/haddock industry. This new approach is known as Batch-based Calculation of Sustainability Impact (BCSI). It is based largely on existing industry data so that food businesses may perform their own sustainability calculations without involving external experts. Researchers first consulted relevant SMEs to determine the requirements of the BCSI, and an initial version, which was based only on existing data, was then tested. The BCSI method was designed with SMEs in mind, allowing self-assessments to be conducted over time. However, it also proved to be a useful and valuable tool for companies wishing to demonstrate to consumers and retailers what they are doing to become more sustainable. Moreover, the BCSI approach enables sustainability assessments to be integrated into management decisions. Following extensive additional data gathering, a second version of the BCSI was used to assess the sustainability of pilot chains. SMEs and SME associations were trained in the use of the BCSI, which will be published and disseminated as a good practice standard in the EU. WHITEFISH outcomes will enable consumers to distinguish wild caught species like cod and haddock from farmed fish, showing that they are subject to rigid and well-documented regulations and standards.


Cod, haddock, seafood industry, whitefish, sustainability, fishing

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