Delivering a framework for sustainable blue food in the EU

Posted on April, 23 2024

WWF's vision for seafood in the EU Sustainable Food Systems Law
Under its Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU announced the publication of a legislative proposal for a framework for a sustainable food system to accelerate and facilitate the necessary transition towards fairer and more sustainable EU food systems, from production to consumption – a Sustainable Food Systems Framework (SFSF).

Unfortunately, while the legislative proposal for the SFSF was expected in autumn 2023, it has failed to manifest. The law was not mentioned in European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s 2023 State of the Union address, where priorities until the end of her mandate were set, nor was it mentioned in the 2024 Commission Work Programme.

With the European elections taking place in June 2024, from which the new European Commission President will be appointed, it is essential to stress the crucial role of the SFSF and the necessity for its inclusion in the next Commission’s political priorities.

The integration of seafood into the scope of the law is critical: the EU is one of the largest seafood markets in the world, importing over 70% of what it consumes with an average consumption of 24 kg per person each year, which is 3.3 kg more than in the global average.

The anticipated legislative proposal for a SFSF is an exceptional opportunity for the EU to integrate sustainability as a primary objective in how we produce and consume food into law. On seafood, its legally-binding measures would complement existing EU legislation on fisheries and aquaculture, such as the Common Fisheries Policy, the Common Market Organisation and the Regulation on Food Information to Consumers.

The food we source from our ocean is unlike any food product on Earth: all the species we consume, from the smallest mollusc to the largest fish, are commonly owned and – when responsibly cared for – infinitely renewable resources. Effective legislation to address the EU market’s high levels of seafood consumption, high dependency on imports to meet demand and the poor environmental status of EU seas is urgently needed to ensure the long-term viability of those resources and, with them, a thriving ocean.
The EU Sustainable Food Systems Framework Law must include clear, long-term guidelines for European seafood systems that focus on human health, environmental protection and social equity.
© WWF European Policy Office