Iberostar hotel chain accomplishes sustainable seafood certification milestone; MSC celebrates 20-year partnership with Whole Foods

Published on
June 21, 2019

Iberostar Hotels & Resorts has become the first hotel chain in the Americas certified for sustainable and responsible practices by both the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). 

Chain of Custody (CoC) certification from both MSC (for wild-caught seafood) and ASC (for farm-raised seafood) has been achieved by one restaurant at both Iberostar Grand Paraíso, in the Riviera Maya, Mexico, and Iberostar Grand Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. With CoC certification, Iberostar can provide assurances to consumers that “both hotel restaurants are sourcing their seafood from certified suppliers, and the seafood is traceable back to a sustainable fishery or responsibly managed farm,” said MSC in a press release.

“Iberostar's commitment to responsible tourism and protection of the oceans is continually growing with its Wave of Change movement. One of our first major steps was to start obtaining MSC and ASC CoC Certifications where we operate to allow for the traceability of key seafood products" said Megan Morikawa, the director of sustainability for the Iberostar group. "We see this as one step in a larger commitment, where dozens of suppliers, thousands of staff, and millions of clients are guided by best seafood practices and join in this movement with us."

“Chain of Custody certification is important for supply chain sustainability as well as for consumers, because it assures that standards are met throughout the supply chain, and that the products are traceable back to a sustainable fishery,” added Brian Perkins, senior director of the Americas for MSC. “Iberostar is demonstrating leadership in sustainability with this achievement, and we’re proud to see their commitment to sustainable seafood at hotel properties in Latin America.”

According to Kathleen Mullen-Ley, ASC’s U.S. commercial manager, the Iberostar certification achievement is great news for ASC and its certified farmer and supplier partners.

“Guests at these two restaurants in Iberostar hotels in the Americas will now be able to choose seafood that has been farmed in a responsible way, and that’s not just good news for the guests but also for the ASC certified farms and suppliers who are being rewarded for their responsible practices,” said Mullen-Ley. “Improving practices in aquaculture requires collaboration from producers, suppliers, the commercial sector, and many more, and Iberostar has shown that they are playing their part by giving their guests the option to eat certified and traceable seafood.”

This week, MSC is also celebrating its 20 years of partnership with Whole Foods Market. Back in 1999, Whole Foods became the first retailer to partner with the MSC “to make certified sustainable seafood available to customers around the U.S.,” the organization said. It is MSC’s longest retail partner.

“Whole Foods Market’s longstanding partnership with the MSC is a testament to their dedication to sustainable seafood supplies and to its significant role in creating a marketplace for sustainable seafood,” Perkins said. “We’re proud to celebrate 20 years of partnership with Whole Foods Market and are honored to have their leadership and foresight in safeguarding fish populations, and in making sure consumers have access to MSC certified sustainable seafood for this and future generations.” 

A primary instance of Whole Foods leadership in the sustainable seafood space came via its sourcing of Patagonian toothfish, or Chilean seabass, MSC said. In 1999, the retailer discontinued the sale of Patagonian toothfish due to overfishing and illegal, unreported, and unregulated catch. South Georgia’s local government, alongside environmental organizations, sought to implement improvements in the fishery’s management system thereafter by pursing MSC certification. 

“Ultimately, after obtaining third-party certification of the fishery and the required Chain of Custody under the MSC program, the fishery attained certification in 2004," MSC said in a press release. "Two years later, Whole Foods Market became the first retailer to sell MSC certified sustainable toothfish with the MSC blue fish label indicating to consumers that the fish came from a responsible, well-managed fishery. Having seen the benefits that MSC certification brought to South Georgia, including the potential to reach Whole Foods Market customers, other toothfish fisheries soon followed suit. Today, illegal fishing is at its lowest recorded in the fishery. Improved management, smarter practices and MSC certification have made Patagonian toothfish a viable option for consumers who want to enjoy seafood that’s good for them, and good for the oceans."

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