SSI Review: Standards and Blue Economy
The sustainable seafood market is surging. In 2015, demand from big retailers and restaurant chains pushed suppliers to certify a catch valued at $11.5 billion USD, a study found.
of May 2016
now accounts for 14 per cent of global production, a dramatic rise from just
0.5 per cent in 2005, according to The
State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI) Review: Standards and the Blue
Economy, which was produced by an alliance of international organizations.
In one of the first
studies of its kind, SSI researchers took a deep dive into the market and
performance trends of the nine most prevalent seafood certification schemes,
including the Marine Stewardship Council, GLOBAL G.A.P. and Friend of the Sea.
documents that, globally, certified seafood production grew 35 per cent per
annum over the last decade, nearly 10 times faster than conventional seafood
production over the same period.
"The rapid expansion
of sustainable seafood practices is helping to address decades of mismanagement,
which has led to the collapse of fisheries and destruction of fragile marine
ecosystems,” said lead author Jason Potts, a senior associate at the
International Institute for Sustainable Development.
The seafood industry
represents a critical source of both protein and employment globally. The
overall trade value of the seafood sector was estimated at US$140 billion in
2014, making it one of the most valuable non-petroleum products traded
Growing global demand
for seafood products has continued to put pressure on global fish stocks, with
an estimated 88 per cent of natural fish stocks being either fully exploited or
While farmed fish has
the potential to relieve the burden on wild fish stocks, it too faces a number
of sustainability challenges, like ecosystem destruction associated with the
use of synthetic inputs, feed and waste management.
maps the requirements of major seafood standards across environmental issues
such as biodiversity, ecosystems, waste, greenhouse gas, energy, water,
synthetic inputs and GMO prohibition. The review concludes that, while
voluntary standards have established a strong foundation for enabling a
transition to sustainable production practices across the global seafood
industry, full integration of such practices will require the involvement of
Need for labour
rights and worker protection
The report found that
the majority of certified seafood is not required to demonstrate compliance
with universally accepted core ILO labour conventions. Nor do they ensure that
fishermen get paid a living wage for their catch.
controversy over slavery-like conditions in the Thai shrimp industry – and the
resulting call for change from consumers and retailers – highlights the importance
of worker protection in the global seafood supply chain.
could spur much-needed economic development, but not alone
An estimated 3 billion
people depend on seafood as their primary source of protein, while an estimated 10–12 per cent of the world’s population is either directly or indirectly
dependent on seafood for their livelihoods. An estimated 80 per cent of
fishermen are located in the developing world.
But Asia – which accounts for 69 per cent of
global seafood production and is associated with some of the most important
environmental impacts from fishing – only accounts for 11 per cent of certified
production. Meanwhile, the five countries that account for 64 per cent of
global certified production only account for 14 per cent of global seafood
Overall, The SSI Review
concludes that the opportunities for voluntary standards to enable positive
transformational change in seafood markets are now well established and
continue to grow within developed country markets.
Securing transformative change in global
production, however, will require a simultaneous and concerted movement towards
the integration of certification within national policy and investment
decision-making, particularly as these apply to developing country producers.
Photo (shoal): Nico / pixelio.de
Tags: Biodiversity Management | Fisheries | Food Industry | Water
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