Responsible supply chains | WWF South Africa
©: Thomas P. Peschak

The seafood supply chain, from where it was caught to where it is eventually eaten, includes everything from catching, transporting, trading, processing, and packaging to selling of seafood through retailers and in restaurants.

Many businesses with significant seafood operations along this supply chain are becoming increasingly concerned about where their fish products come from and how they have been caught. Furthermore consumers are also expecting adequately labelled seafood products that clearly identify the species, catch origin and catch method. This is driving seafood businesses to extend both their sustainability and traceability systems to verify and provide this information. 

Alarmingly, it is estimated that 20% or more of worldwide fish catches come from illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing, thus a large portion of seafood caught is escaping basic fisheries management. Solutions to this problem depend on ensuring that industry regulators and other market influencers – from businesses to consumers – have access to reliable information to know which fish products are legal and sustainable and which are not. But currently, access to this information and the mechanisms needed to trace wild caught fish to their origins are the exception rather than the rule.

WWF works with the major national retailers and restaurant franchises and their suppliers to create market incentives that can drive transformation in key fisheries, as well as to address the issue of traceability and other considerations in ensuring local seafood sustainability. This is primarily achieved by conducting operational assessments to help participating members identify the major risks and opportunities in terms of their seafood sustainability.

WWF then works with these companies to develop a specific set of sustainable seafood commitments for their businesses. We also assist these committed partners to implement appropriate solutions according to their targets and deadlines. This creates the necessary incentive for source fisheries to fish responsibly. The active participants in the scheme, with guidance from WWF-SASSI, are thus playing their role in changing the landscape of the local seafood industry. Many of these committed partners’ seafood targets should be embedded in their supply chains by early 2016.

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) are credible and objective certification systems that identify responsible practice on farms and sustainable harvest at sea together with full traceability from farm to fork and boat to plate.

Aquaculture is relatively new in South Africa and is currently considered an under-developed sector by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Historically it has focused on high-value species such as abalone, mussels and oysters. It is estimated that South Africa contributes about 21% to global abalone production; other species farmed include kob, oysters, mussels and trout among others. The South African government has identified aquaculture as an area for expansion.

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Our marine environment holds great economic value, with coastal goods and services contributing significantly to South Africa’s gross domestic product. Read more here.

Seafood continues to be one of the most traded food commodities worldwide.  As a result the fisheries and aquaculture (fish farming) sectors are key sources of employment and income, supporting the livelihoods of a significant number of the world’s population. Read more here.

The seafood supply chain, from where it was caught to where it is eventually eaten, includes everything from catching, transporting, trading, processing, and packaging to selling of seafood through retailers and in restaurants. Read more here.

WWF-SASSI was initiated in collaboration with networking partners in 2004 to educate those in the seafood trade from wholesalers to restaurateurs through to seafood lovers about what sustainable seafood is. This is primarily achieved through the development of a seafood sustainability ‘traffic light’ system that divides species into Green-list (sustainable choice), Orange-list (think twice) and Red-list (avoid). Read more here.