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WWF’s Seafood Charter: safeguarding fish for future generations


WWF works in 100 countries across the world, and oceans and seafood are a priority for many of our offices. We work in different regions, with many species and a variety of people to ensure that fisheries and farms are operating in a responsible way. WWF’s Seafood Charter helps businesses contribute towards this goal.

A healthy planet is better for people and essential for all the other inhabitants we share it with. After millennia of modern mankind, the aquatic environment remains critical to our societal development. We rely on it for food, water, transport, leisure and countless more essentials that contribute to our health and livelihoods. The bounty of food provided to us by Mother Nature by just dropping a hook into the sea is an incredible gift that we must protect.

Tikina Wai villagers catching fish just outside the Marine Protected Area (MPA) area in Tikina Wai, Fiji © Brent Stirton / Getty ImagesTikina Wai villagers catching fish just outside a Marine Protected Area in Fiji © Brent Stirton / Getty Images

Producing food from our waters is incredibly important; fishing employs millions, processing seafood employs even more, and billions of people consume the outputs. The number and variety of people involved in this one industry can blow your mind – from small scale fishermen with dugout canoes to large fishing industries with 100m mechanised vessels. There are also the scientists modelling fish stocks and politicians in government planning resources. And let’s not forget the factories full of workers on the production lines and individual women drying fish on racks on the shores. This ‘industry’ is about fish and people – people who are passionate, committed and who work hard.

However, unfortunately for the seafood industry, the waters are far from calm. 60% of fisheries are already being fished at their sustainable limits while a further 30% are considered to be overexploited. It’s critical that our waters remain in a healthy state and that the key issues that are threatening the balance are addressed. By doing this we can improve the resilience of the seafood sector to help safeguard against global threats such as pollution and climate change.

The WWF seafood team is involved in such a wide variety of work and with so many different stakeholders that it’s difficult to summarise in one page. But the WWF Seafood Charter provides us with a tool to simplify our goals for seafood businesses and stakeholders. The Seafood Charter contains a set of principles and steps aimed at guiding the industry towards tackling key challenges:

  • Eliminating illegal seafood
  • Ensuring seafood is traceable
  • Increasing transparency
  • Implementing projects to reduce the impact of farming and fishing practices on the environment

The Seafood Charter programme has been a great success for over 10 years with many major companies around the world signed-up and working towards the same goals. In the UK, John West and M&S are both working with us in a Seafood Charter partnership to ensure the seafood they sell is responsibly sourced and sustainable.

Take a look at our video to understand what the WWF Seafood Charter is about.

Everyone can play their part to ensure a secure and sustainable future for our oceans. If you eat seafood, make sure the products you buy are certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council or Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

And if you’re a business involved in the seafood industry you can download our Seafood Charter guide for companies to find out more. If you’d like to get your company involved with the Seafood Charter please get in touch with me: tcambridge@wwf.org.uk.

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