Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Notice to the SEG Standard Community 5 January 2024

Notice to the SEG Standard Certification Community     

5 January 2024

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For the attention of SEG Standard certificate holders, parties seeking SEG certification and other interested parties.

The Sustainable Eel Group (SEG) announces that SEG standard certification holders can no longer hold the certificate if they are engaged in exporting eels to Russia or Belarus. The same will apply to any companies seeking to become a certification holder.

The SEG Board considers such trade to fall within the category of a “high risk situation” as per Criterion 1.5 of the SEG Standard, as further developed in the 103a Guidance for SEG Standard Components. Per that Guidance, Criterion 1.5 applies without transition period to the new SEG Standard, published and applicable as of 20 November 2023.

Objective evidence exists in the public domain confirming the high risk of illegal trade of eels in and through Belarus and Russia.

The risk to the integrity of the SEG standard is exacerbated by the fact that SEG cannot rely on the full range of auditing services to assure the integrity of certification, in particular in Russia. That results from the imposition of EU trade sanctions. SEG therefore cannot assure itself of a core aspect of its certification process in situations of high risk which would require an audit to take place in the given export country. Such an audit is necessary to confirm the traceability, destination and intended use of any eel exported and to ensure the integrity and reputation of the SEG Standard.

The consequences of this announcement are twofold:

  • SEG will urgently conduct a review of currently-held certificates to establish the extent to which the certificate holder is engaged in the trade of eels to Russia and Belarus and whether such certificate holders rely on auditing services in Russia and Belarus to provide assurance to SEG

  • SEG cannot award certification to any applicant companies which is engaged in the trade of eels to Russia and Belarus and/or which will rely on auditing services in Russia and Belarus to provide assurance to SEG

This decision is consistent with similar decisions taken by, for example, the Forestry Stewardship Council, Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Assurance Services International. It is a temporary measure until and will be periodically reviewed. The SEG Board reserves the right to implement further measures, which may include revisions to the terms and conditions and the application process.

The SEG Board

Sustainable Eel Group

Note:  if translated from English and there is any query on the meaning, the original English version applies.