The European whitefish catch and processing industry is dominated by SMEs, and it is currently facing several challenges. Worldwide many stocks have collapsed, and environmental organizations warn against consuming captured whitefish. Strict regulations with respect to documentation and traceability have been imposed on the European captured fish industry in the last few years, and fulfilling these generates significant additional cost. While some cod/haddock stocks, particularly in the North-East Atlantic, are still healthy and sustainable there is a problem for these species when they get to the market. This is due to competition from cheap farmed whitefish species, in particular pangasius and tilapia imported from Asia/Africa.
The goal of the WhiteFish project is to strengthen the competitiveness of the European cod/haddock industry by documenting the desirable characteristics of whitefish caught in the North-East Atlantic, in particular relating to sustainability (stock, environmental, economic and social).
The specific objective of the project is to develop and validate an objective and transparent method to document the sustainability impact of captured fish products. The method will be based on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and it will calculate sustainability impact on production batch level as opposed to generic product type level which is current practice. This will enable differentiated calculation of environmental impact, so that products that look identical may be shown to have different properties, for instance related to food miles or CO2 emissions.
The method will utilize existing recordings in the company traceability systems, so that food businesses may perform their own calculations of sustainability without needing to involve external experts. The method will be developed, piloted and tested in this project, SMEs and SME Associations will be trained in the use of it, and it will be published and distributed as a European ‘good practice’ standard.