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Fishing on a scale

Government cracks down on illegal fish imports

Overfishing is a concern in many countries, including Peru (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Overfishing is a concern in many countries, including Peru

(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

The Swiss cabinet is tightening up seafood import rules to prevent overfishing.

Starting next year, ocean fish products will only be able to be imported if it can be proven that they have come from a legal source, and when the correct correlating documents can prove it.

The certificate needs to show that the products come from an appropriately registered ship, that the haul was correctly reported upon landing and that the catch did not overstep fishing quotas. Each shipment will have to be registered with the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office three days before being imported, and then be given the go-ahead.

The new rules will not affect products that come from fish farms.

There will be an exception to the new rules made for shipments from countries where fishing is monitored. At the moment, this includes member states of the European Union (EU) and EFTA countries, alongside the United States, Canada and Australia. Around 85-90% of fish products imported into Switzerland currently come from these countries.

The cabinet decided on Wednesday to bring the new regulation into effect from March 1, 2017, following a mandate from parliament.

A member of parliament originally requested the change to the law in 2011, but it was rejected at the time in favour of voluntary measures, such as the MSC label, which encourages responsible fishing practices. The EU has banned importing fish products from illegal sources since 2010. 

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