Efforts to ensure the sustainability of the world's marine fisheries got a boost earlier this month when the FAO Committee of Fisheries (COFI) adopted a set of voluntary guidelines for the ecolabelling of fish products during its 26th session, held March 7-11, 2005.



An ecolabel is a tag placed on a product that certifies that it was produced in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. Such tags let consumers make informed choices about what they are buying, so that those who wish to can support responsible food production.



With trade in fishery products at an all-time high and concern over the status of wild marine stocks growing, ecolabelling offers a way to promote responsible fish trade -- crucial for many developing countries -- while preserving natural resources for future generations.



"We have seen a proliferation of ecolabels on various products, including food and wood products, some of which have little credibility, confused consumers, caused unfair competition in the market place, and did not promote sustainable practices," says Ichiro Nomura, FAO Assistant Director General for Fisheries. "These are the kinds of challenges that the guidelines on ecolabelling of marine capture fish products recently adopted by COFI can help address."



By producing the guidelines, FAO hopes to forestall such problems for labels on fish and fishery products and create equal opportunities for all honest ecolabelling schemes, he explains.



Source: United Nations Release