Phil Haslam, Director of Operations at the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), discusses why it is bringing the issue of illegal fish supply chains to the table.
Buying fish through illegitimate sources damages the fishing industry, fish stocks and the long term future of the marine environment. This is the message being delivered through our new Crimestoppers’ campaign.
We are working with the Angling Trust, the British Hospitality Association (BHA), the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) and fish and chip shops across the country via Seafish to encourage people to be vigilant about the sources of seafood they buy.
Under the Registration of Fish Buyers and Sellers Regulations 2005, (the RBS scheme) enforced by the MMO, you can buy small quantities of fish for your own personal consumption direct from a registered and licensed fishing vessel. Catch caught from recreational fishing activities cannot legally be sold and you should not buy this.
This is not simply a question of legality; we want people to be sure they are getting quality produce and the scheme also aids traceability of fish from the point it was brought ashore. Seafood with questionable provenance may not only have legal and environmental implications, it could also be of low quality.
Reputable suppliers take care to ensure the safety and quality of their products and should easily be able to provide information on their source. You should ask if in any doubt. The Fish Register website also provides a list and contact details of registered buyers and sellers of first-sale fish.
More information on the campaign and guidance on the purchasing of seafood is available from GOV.UK/MMO or by contacting the MMO on 0300 1231032.
If you suspect illegal activity you can report it to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. A cash award may be available.
Want updates on the campaign or to know more about our work? Follow the MMO on Twitter.