SFP initiative aims for 75 percent sustainable seafood globally

The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership announced on Monday, 5 June at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., the launch of an initiative aimed achieving the goal of seeing 75 percent of the world’s seafood sourced sustainably or improving toward sustainability by 2020.

At its launch announcement at the summit, SFP, a nonprofit dedicated reducing the environmental and social impacts of fishing and fish farming , called on the seafood industry at large to consider industry-based improvement projects and similar pre-competitive collaborations to help achieve the goal.

“Although the objectives of Target 75 may seem ambitious, our initiative is only calling for our partners and their suppliers to continue with activities that are already underway, and for some others to get on board,” SFP said in its launch statement. “If companies are prepared to assess their supply chains, identify the fisheries and aquaculture regions that need improving, and mobilize their suppliers to launch fishery and aquaculture improvement projects (FIPs and AIPs), it will be possible to meet the target.

Bill DiMento, High Liner Foods’ Vice President of Quality Assurance, Sustainability initiatives, and Government Affairs said his company “loves the goal and will support the effort.” 

“Setting goals like this is certainly ambitious but it’s needed to set the pace for the rest of the world,” he said.

SFP said it would use either Marine Stewardship Council certification or a “Green” rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program to define a fishery as “sustainable.” To be defined as “improving,” a fishery must have a grade of “C” or higher as ranked by SFP’s FIP evaluation tool.

 “Our two programs are complementary,” Brian Perkins, the North American regional director of the Marine Stewardship Council, said at the SeaWeb press conference. “We have same goal in mind, which is 100 percent sustainable fisheries worldwide. And at MSC, our goal is 20 percent of world fisheries engaged in our by 2020. If we both charge at the goals, we might actually get there.”

Perkins also said that “working through FIPs and roundtable are fantastic ways to get fisheries to the level where they can choose MSC certification if they want.”

Fisheries identified by SFP as having attained or on pace to attain the Target 75 goals include whitefish, shelf-stable and fresh-and-frozen tuna, shrimp, and salmon. Reduction fisheries and many types of crab, including coldwater crab and swimming crab, are viewed as needing improvement. Fisheries including snapper and grouper, octopus and squid  need a lot of help to achieve alignment with the goals, SFP Founder and CEO Jim Cannon acknowledged.

“Those fisheries, which are primarily centered around domestic production in tropical country, have a long way to go,” he said, estimating that only about 10 to 20 percent of the world supply of those species categories are currently MSC-certified or in FIPs. “Getting much further seems difficult.”

Partnerships, such as the National Fisheries Institute’s Crab Council, are the path forward in those areas, Cannon said.

“This is a method that we’ve used for more than 10 years now,” Cannon said. “We know it works, and significant industry stakeholders know it works. Now, we hope to see the method adopted in sectors where we know there’s little data to assess sustainability, or no progress toward sustainable seafood production. With the industry’s help, I’m confident we’ll get there.”

Cannon said the Target 75 initiative is driven by the same idea that led him to found SFP in the first place

“My vision is that everyone in the world can one day afford to eat sustainable seafood, not just a small minority,” he said.


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