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The WWF-SASSI Retailer/ Supplier Participation Scheme has made great strides in transforming the seafood sector in the past 10 years by encouraging sustainable procurement in response to consumer demand.
This is demonstrated through positive year-on-year progress outlined in a WWF report released at the fourth WWF-SASSI/ MSC Sustainable Seafood Symposium in Cape Town today.
The move towards a more sustainable seafood sector is due to a combination of increased consumer demand for more sustainable options, the foresight of WWF to work with seafood retailers and suppliers along the supply chain and the retailers and suppliers themselves who have put in the hard work.
The 2016 WWF-SASSI Retailer/ Supplier Participation Scheme annual report shows that the nine WWF-SASSI participants in the scheme are setting a precedent for changing the seafood sector and making progress, one procurement strategy at a time.
The nine WWF-SASSI participants are I&J, John Dory’s, Pick n Pay, Food Lover’s Market, Woolworths, SPAR Group Limited, Sun International, Ocean Basket and Breco Seafoods.
Says Stephanie Rainer, WWF-SASSI’s Retailer Engagement Officer, “The seafood sector in South Africa is in a vastly different place today, compared to a decade ago. For the first time we are seeing a trend where all our participants are starting to deliver clear improvements and are making a collective impact.’’
Chris Kastern, Seafood Market Transformation Manager for WWF South Africa, adds: “In realising that we all rely on shared oceans, it is clear that collaboration will play a huge role in transforming the South African seafood market. Participants need to work together in a pre-competitive environment to ensure the sustainable use of marine resources for this and future generations.’’
An example in the South African context is the action taken by the nine national retailers and suppliers who sent a joint letter to the Namibian Hake Association (NHA) to request improvements in environmental performance of their fishery. Following this engagement, the NHA committed to have their fishery assessed against the Marine Stewardship Council standard for sustainable fisheries, with the process due to begin in early 2017.
Together, WWF-SASSI participants hold the power to transform the seafood sector by supporting fisheries under improvement, stocking sustainable seafood species that comply with traceability principles, and ensuring that seafood products are adequately labelled with enough information so that consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.
A long-term goal of the WWF-SASSI scheme is to see all major South African retailers having made voluntary commitments to sustainable seafood procurement and meeting time-bound seafood sustainability targets – thus fundamentally transforming the seafood supply chain by 2025.
“While there is still a lot of work ahead, we are extremely proud of these WWF-SASSI participants, these industry-leading companies in the South African seafood sector are at the forefront of a changing seafood sector. It is now up to the South African consumer to put more pressure on the rest of the South African seafood market to do the same,’’ concludes Kastern.