More about Belgian fish
Fresh North Sea fish
The Flemish fishing sector is very professional. Within the great variety of types of fish that the Flemish fishing fleet catches, plaice and sole are the most important fish. Together, they represent almost 50% of the total catch.
The fish auction in Nieuwpoort specialises in the sale of coastal fish production and niche products such as the famous Flemish grey shrimp. Almost 90% of the catch of the Flemish fishing fleet is sold at the Flemish fish auction of Zeebrugge-Ostend (www.vlaamsevisveiling.be). The auction clock is linked to that of the neighbouring countries. This makes a completely transparent pricing system possible. Thanks to Flanders’ central location in the middle of Europe, 300 million consumers can be reached within 12 hours.
Top-quality of Flemish types of fish
The Flemish fishing sector is known for its safe and high-quality products. The know-how and experience of Flemish fishermen ensure that the quality buyers are looking for is delivered. Stringent inspections by the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain www.favv.be) guarantee the highest sanitary and hygiene standards in Europe. Quality is safeguarded using the Quality Index Method (QIM), that is generally accepted as an objective information system. An increasing number of Internet purchasers now completely trusts that this method provides the relevant information with regard to the quality and traceability of the products, so that remote purchasing is easy.
Thanks to intensive cooperation between the government, fishermen, scientific institutes and industry, the sector has changed course irreversibly and chosen sustainable fishing methods. The beam-trawl fleet has been adapted with various alternatives such as sumwing, nets with extruder devices, adapted mesh … with more selective fishing as a result, as well as less impact on the seabed, better quality catch and lower fuel consumption.
Fish trade fair: Seafood Expo Global
Seafood Expo Global Brussels is the primary fish trade fair in the world. Its location in Brussels gives our fishing companies extra benefits in their contacts with the international fish trade. That is why numerous Flemish fishing companies are present. It is possible to participate in the fair under the VLAM ‘Fresh fish from Flanders’ umbrella thanks to cooperation with various partners: shipping companies, auctions, the Province of West Flanders and the port cities of Nieuwpoort, Ostend and Bruges. Quality, professional skill and sustainable developments in the fishing sector are pivotal in contacts with international trade.
B2B-events for the international trade
In addition to participation in the Seafood Expo Global fair, in cooperation with FIT (Flanders Investment and Trade) every year a B2B event is organised abroad with the exhibitors who participate in SEG Brussels – meeting place for local seafood purchasers.
More Sustainable fishing
RECOGNITION OF RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS PRACTICES
The topic of sustainability is constantly in the news. The population is being urged to live life ever more sustainably and that includes sustainable consumption. And under this mounting social pressure, the modern Belgian fisheries sector is striving for increasing sustainability. Thus, the Belgian fisheries sector has taken the initiative to create a specific recognition for responsible and sustainable fishing.
OBJECTIVE TOOL TO MEASURE EFFORTS
Supported by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department, and leading fish wholesalers and fishmongers, the ILVO (Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Nutritional Research) in close cooperation with the Rederscentrale has developed an objective and scientifically substantiated tool that can measure the sustainability of fishing activities and make it visible: the VALDUVIS sustainability score.
WHAT EXACTLY IS MEASURED?
The state of the fishery resources, fuel consumption, animal welfare and the health and safety of the crew on board are amongst the factors taken into account. There are 11 indicators in total about which data is collected, amongst other things through the logbooks of Belgian vessels, European fisheries advice and annual accounts.
TO MEASURE IS TO KNOW
The information from the VALDUVIS system is used to communicate to clients by means of a recognition on the auction clock. The ‘Visserij verduurzaamt’ recognition illustrates which vessels are actively cooperating in the sustainability process of the Belgian fishing fleet and it is only awarded on certain conditions.
INDIVIDUAL MONITORING OF SHIPOWNERS TO INCREASE SUSTAINABILITY
Practically the entire fleet is participating. Every year, the ILVO researchers calculate the sustainability score and closely follow the efforts made. Individual meetings are held with the participating shipowners to discuss the scores and work on an improvement program. To join the project, shipowners must comply with a basic standard and sign a statement of intent that they will strive for a higher score.
A COMMON GOAL: MORE SUSTAINABLE FISHING
“The aim of this initiative is certainly not to exclude less sustainable vessels, but to work towards improved sustainability together, step by step, in a structured way. That this effort is now recognised on the auction clock means a lot to the shipowners, but also for clients since they are the ones demanding sustainably caught fish. The new recognition now provides traceable information about sustainability from the vessel to the auction”, says Geert De Groote, chairman of the Rederscentrale.