South Africa retailer commits to MSC

South African retailer Woolworth’s this week announced a commitment to sourcing wild fish from Marine Stewardship Council-certified fisheries.

Woolworths first introduced a sustainable seafood policy to their operations in 2008 and in 2012 partnered with the MSC in a consumer focused joint marketing campaign across all of their South African stores.  The campaign aimed to raise the profile of the MSC ecolabel on products in Woolworths’ canned, frozen and chilled seafood ranges.  They have since implemented a business-wide Fishing for the Future program and continue to cement their position as the retailer with the widest choice of sustainably sourced and traceable seafood products in the country.

Over the past five years, Woolworths’ become the first South African retailer to introduce a Sustainable Seafood Policy and to sign the WWF-SASSI [2] Retail Charter.  Since implementing the policy Woolworths has ceased to sell species that do not fit with their sustainability guidelines.  In 2010 it introduced random DNA testing to help combat mislabeling and in 2012 became the first retailer in the country to have their fresh seafood counters certified against the MSC’s Chain of Custody (CoC) Standard.   

“We’re very proud of what we have achieved over the last five years,” said Zyda Ryalnds, Woolworths managing director of foods. “Not only as far as ensuring that the seafood we sell is responsibly sourced, but in raising our customers’ awareness of the real danger posed by declining fish populations and the need to only buy responsibly sourced seafood from responsible retailers.”  

Woolworths’ commitment states that by the end of 2015 all of its wild seafood will be sourced from MSC certified fisheries or fisheries that are undertaking credible time-bound improvement project in order to reach these standards or are WWF-SASSI green listed.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of their seafood purchases and want to make the right choices,” said Martin Purves, MSC Southern Africa program manager. “The growth of MSC labeled products in South Africa is very encouraging and we are delighted to work with Woolworths and support them in their quest to offer shoppers the widest range of sustainable seafood choices.”


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