What is the Sustainable Eel Group Standard?
The SEG Standard describes the standards to which those who trade in the European Eel must comply if they wish to claim to be doing so responsibly or sustainably. It is based on similar principles to the Marine Stewardship Council that sets the standards for sustainable sea fishing and traceability.
Businesses must show their work methods and handling practices meet the requirements of the SEG standard. When the eel has also been sourced and tracked through out the supply chain then the claim for sustainability can be validated with the SEG product logo. It allows consumers and those in the supply chain to choose responsibly caught eels from a sustainable source.
The full background behind the SEG Standard is described in the document: Background to the Development of the Sustainable Eel Group Standard.
What is its purpose?
The purpose of the SEG standard has been defined by the SEG Board, in support of its Theory of Change as:
To maximise the contribution of eel fishers, ranchers, aquaculturalists, traders and consumers of eel products to the restoration of healthy eel populations, distributed throughout their natural range, fulfilling their role in the aquatic environment and supporting sustainable use for the benefit of communities, local economies and traditions.
The Standard has been developed as part of the solution for the sustainable recovery of the European Eel. It is designed to:
• Enable operators to demonstrate high standards and their commitment to sustainability
• Encourage high and responsible standards through the supply chain, from fishery to market
• Encourage sustainable practices and sustainable markets
• Discourage unsustainable practices and unsustainable markets
• Provide confidence to consumers who wish to buy responsibly
How does it work?
This is a summary of the process to gain certification under the SEG Standard:
• Operator registers an interest to seek assessment and gain certification under the Standard, by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
• SEG provides contacts for qualified Certification Bodies
• Operator contacts a qualified Certification Body to arrange assessment
• Certification Body completes the assessment and provides a draft report to the Operator before finalising
• Certification Body provides a final report to the SEG Standard Panel
• The SEG Standard Panel reviews the assessment report and either (usually) ratifies the recommendation or (sometimes) overturns the recommendation
• The SEG Standard Panel confirms the outcome of the assessment to the Operator
• If approved, the Operator is included on the register of assessed organisations on the SEG website.
There are two levels of holding the SEG Standard.
1. Those achieving the Standard and awarded a certificate have demonstrated their commitment to legality, sustainability, traceability and the highest levels of husbandry. They are deemed capable of trading in certified sustainable sources of eel, but it does not indicate that they are actually trading in certified sustainable eel.
2. Those who achieve the Standard and who wish to demonstrate they are trading in sustainable eel can be licensed to use the Sustainable Eel Standard logo to label their products:
Guidance for use is provided in the Standards & Procedures for Printing of the Sustainable Eel Standard Eco-label.
Reports or allegations of operators transgressing the standard or the conditions of use will be investigated by the SEG Standard Panel. This may lead to temporary suspension or full withdrawal of the certificate. The procedure is described in the SEG Standard.
Other relevant standards
Prior to the development of the SEG Standard and certification scheme, SEG contacted and discussed its proposed approach with representatives of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). We reviewed these schemes’ respective standards. In discussion with these programmes it was concluded that the characteristics of the eel lifecycle, the lack of scientific certainty as to its population and an associated sustainable take, the dispersed nature of the eel fisheries and its status as a critically endangered species, together prevented the application of their standards to the restoration of eel populations at the time.
SEG remains open to collaboration with these initiatives wherever there is potential to avoid duplication and overlap. We believe this may be possible in relation to aspects of the SEG Standard that address eel aquaculture where there are overlaps with ASC requirements, and in relation to the standards and processes for assuring traceability, where there are overlaps with both ASC and MSC standards and procedures.
Where businesses hold relevant MSC and/or ASC certification, they will be taken into consideration when being assessed for the SEG Standard.
Review and improvement
The SEG Standard is reviewed regularly to keep it up to date with changes in the law, and in response to feedback from users. Following the latest stakeholder review and a learning and improvement review, a new version (Version 5) of the Standard was launched in June 2013 at the London Eel Conference. Download the Sustainable Eel Standard in English or Français. A major review is planned for 2017. This will also make it compatible with ISEAL principles.
The activities and procedures for developing and reviewing the SEG Standard are described in summary in the SEG Standard Development, and in more detail in the Sustainable Eel Group Standard Development Procedure.
SEG is currently applying to become a member of the ISEAL Alliance, to help improve the SEG Standard in accordance with internationally recognised principles.
ISEAL’s mission is to strengthen sustainability standards systems for the benefit of people and the environment.
SEG formally started the application in October 2016. We hope to become an Associate member by 2018 with full membership by 2019.
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