The sustainable spotlight on our oceans.
The demand for seafood has steadily increased over recent decades – and as the fastest growing form of food production in the world, its development has led to concerns regarding the impact of fishing and/or aquaculture on the marine environment. As more wildlife is caught to meet consumer demand, a greater focus has been put upon the efforts being taken to farm seafood responsibly and minimise its impact on the surrounding environment. In creating an industry benchmark for sustainability, third-party certification has been brought in to demonstrate that seafood farmers are operating to required standards
Who ensures the sustainability of seafood?
Third party organisations work with fish farmers to make sure they are using the world’s best practices. Certification schemes like the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (GAA BAP) scheme ensures the entire production chain of aquaculture farms, from the hatcheries to the feed mills to the processing plants, take into account the local environment, social integrity, the welfare of the animals and the health of the consumer. Other sustainable seafood third-party certification bodies include the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and for wild-caught seafood, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
In countries with strong environmental maritime law frameworks like Australia, New Zealand, USA and Norway, the third-party fisheries certification schemes are not as well adopted as in other countries. To underpin seafood sustainability in these countries, producers will point to the strong domestic regulations such as fisheries quota systems and fisheries management systems. So whilst there might not be a tick or a stamp from a global certifying body, it is still considered responsibly sourced seafood.
How is seafood sustainably harvested?
There have been substantial changes to the way many of the world’s fisherman and seafood farmers catch and farm their seafood. These changes have seen sustainable fishing practices take precedence in a conscious effort to ensure fish stocks are maintained and that the environment is not harmed. One of the biggest global problems in the past few decades has been overfishing – with too many boats pulling out too many fish. Mandatory catch reporting and strict quotas have been enforced to eliminate the occurrence of overfishing. Such measures allow governments and/or third party certifying bodies to monitor fish stocks and the environmental impacts of fishing/aquaculture. The other area of global concern is seafood caught by IUU (Illegal, Unregulated or Unreported) fishing vessels, often operating on the high seas outside areas of governmental control (read more about IUU here).
Bidfood Australia recognises the importance of seafood sustainability and the role we play as a national foodservice distributor. Bidfood uses a risk assessment process to manage these supply chain sourcing risks. In March 2021, as part of national Seafood Sustainability Week, Bidfood won the ASC award for Best Seafood Importer in recognition for the effort put into addressing sustainability concerns for aquacultured products.