What is Seafood Sustainability and How Does It Affect You?
The harvesting of fish and seafood through sustainable practices started in the nineties when the results of over-fishing and over-use of the ocean’s resources became apparent. Responsible corporate companies, such as Sea Harvest, then initiated and participated in projects to promote seafood sustainability.
Eco-labelling and awareness campaigns have become important over the years to ensure the protection of marine reserves. Eco-labelling entails the evaluation of processes involved in harvesting and processing seafood from the producer to the end-supplier. The products are labeled to indicate seafood products that have been harvested and processed in a way that doesn’t cause harm to the environment. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification is the gold standard for sustainability within the global fishing industry and, in 2004, the South African hake industry became the first such industry in the world to be certified by the MSC, a certification it has retained ever since.
Awareness campaigns help to inform the consumers about the vitality of the various fish and seafood species. Consumers are made aware of viable alternative fish and seafood, instead of having to consume endangered species. Guides, such as the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), are developed to help consumers make informed buying choices. Red is used to indicate which seafood or fish products not to purchase, while yellow indicates a viable alternative. Green indicates species that are not endangered, and which make for the best choices with regards to seafood products.
Sea Harvest promotes, supports, and actively participates in seafood sustainability practices. The firm complies with the various government and international organisation regulations and quotas. In addition, Sea Harvest is a member of the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA). Our company actively engages with non-governmental organisations, relevant role players, business partners, and the government in conservation programmes to promote and support seafood sustainability. Overall, the South African deep-sea trawling industry leads the way when it comes to sustainable management of fishing, as is evident in the recertification of the industry by the MSC in 2015 for the next period of five years.
As one of the founding members of the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (www.rfalliance.org.za), Sea Harvest supports the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF). The alliance consists of a group of like-minded organisations, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-SA), various fishing companies, and BirdLife South Africa that work together to ensure that healthy marine ecosystems underpin a robust seafood industry in southern Africa. An EAF provides a framework for the planning, development, and management of fisheries. It is about finding a balance between the health of the marine ecosystem and the benefits that humans get from it. In essence, it pertains to sustainable fishing practices that prevent over-fishing and ensure the availability of the natural resource for future generations.
By supporting local companies committed to sustainability, such as Sea Harvest, you thus become an environmentally responsible consumer. Look out for our products at your local retailer, and use the various seafood sustainability guides available on the internet to help you make informed and responsible buying choices when dining out at restaurants.