The high-quality pelagic fish from PFA members is almost entirely intended for direct human consumption.
Around 90 percent of our fish goes to markets outside Europe, especially to African countries where food security is not always certain.
On a daily basis, PFA members provide 5.5 million meals of fish per day in countries where there is the greatest need for affordable food. Not only is it affordable; pelagic fish is very healthy because it contains high-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals, together with high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids that are an essential part of a healthy diet. This nutritional value has the potential to offer lifelong health benefits including support of cognitive development, and the reduction of both blood pressure and cholesterol.
In addition to providing healthy and affordable food, in selling to these communities, we also support local economies and local food safety by investing in cold stores and developing partnerships with traders, including many female independent business owners.
Many independent studies have given evidence that the carbon footprint of pelagic fisheries is the lowest of all forms of animal protein production.
This is a result of the highly selective approach to fishing undertaken by freezer trawlers, which relies on onboard innovations including sonar and echo technologies to detect shoals, resulting in by-catch levels of less than 1%.
In addition, the ability to process and store large volumes of fish onboard means that our freezer trawlers do not constantly need to go back to port which significantly reduces fuel consumption. This, together with the use of mid-water trawls which do not damage the seabed, makes our members’ approach to pelagic fishing efficient and sustainable.
Our members are committed to developing sustainable practices, and regularly invest in further innovations to make their fishing even more selective (for example, escape panels for other species than fish, acoustics, and pre-catch identification). They also recognise that whilst these innovations support sustainability, it is compliance with allocated quotas that is fundamental to sustainable and responsible fishing.
Therefore, scientifically sound stock management is at the heart of our responsible operations.
The pelagic fishing industry works closely with NGO’s, notably through the Pelagic Advisory Council (PelAC) – an official stakeholder-driven advisory body that produces advice on Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and overall stock management to the European Commission.
As a member of PelAC, the PFA takes the scientific advice produced by ICES, the independent scientific body responsible for advice on fisheries management, very seriously, generally following advice and, if desired, implementing an even more precautionary approach than that recommended.
The PFA is also active in the Long Distance Advisory Council (LDAC). The LDAC advises European institutions on questions regarding fisheries agreements between the EU and third countries. It also advises on EU relations with the Regional Fisheries Organisations to which the EU is signatory or a partner, or in whose waters the community fleet operates.