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Overview

As the world’s largest conservation organization working in over 100 countries, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) combines its scientific foundation and global reach to help drive more sustainable food systems that conserve nature and feed humanity.

WWF works with global food companies to drive long-term, transformational change to source more sustainable products and actively engage current supply chains to drive these efforts. For more than 20 years, WWF has worked with fishing and farming industries, governments and local communities around the world to safeguard marine wildlife, the natural environment, and the livelihoods of people who depend on the oceans and coastal environments for their wellbeing.

Today, we bring this expertise to bear on our 150+ partnerships with the industry’s largest traders, processors, retailers, hoteliers, restaurants, and foodservice companies.

WWF is the world’s largest conservation organization working on seafood and is partnered with over 150 major seafood buyers globally.

© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

How to Build a MORE Sustainable, Responsible and Traceable Seafood Commitment

WWF recommends companies commit to a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to source more sustainable, responsible, and traceable seafood by engaging and transitioning fisheries and farms to improve their management and production practices.

1. Source Credibly Certified Seafood

Source from the most credible, robust available seafood certifications working to drive more sustainable, responsible, and traceable seafood production. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) currently offer the most credible standards to the global seafood marketplace.

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For wild-caught fisheries, WWF supports the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as the world’s leading certification program because of its thorough environmental criteria, credible certification procedures, and traceability requirements. MSC is an independent global non-profit organization that sets standards for sustainable wild-caught fisheries and traceable supply chains.

For aquaculture, WWF supports the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) as the most credible aquaculture certification program. ASC is an independent, global non-profit organization that manages standards for environmentally and socially responsible fish farming. Farms and companies are third-party certified against those standards through ASC certification and ASC Chain of Custody (CoC) certification respectively.

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2. Transition Source Fisheries and Farms: FIPs and AIPs

Support fisheries and farms engaged in fishery improvement projects (FIPs) and aquaculture improvement projects (AIPs) to achieve MSC and ASC certification, respectively.

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Fishery and aquaculture improvement projects bring together fishers and farmers, community leaders, industry, researchers, government, and non-governmental organizations to ensure solutions comprehensively address environmental, social and economic issues. WWF directly implements FIPs and AIPs globally to create measurable change and ensure the long-term sustainability of wild-caught and farm-raised seafood.

3. Verify Traceable and Legal Seafood

Ensure traceable and legal seafood by tracking products through supply chains back to the fishing vessel, farm, and feed source.

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WWF works with companies to help ensure compliance with national and international laws and regulations. To verify sustainable and responsible practices, and to reduce risk – including exposure to legal, financial and reputational risks associated with illegal labor and production – seafood companies should have systems in place to trace their products through their supply chains back to the fishing vessel, farming location, and feed source. Implementing robust traceability systems in supply chains makes it possible to obtain reliable information about many of the fundamental characteristics and qualities of seafood products. WWF’s traceability principles can be used as a benchmark for a variety of traceability systems. For certified product, WWF recommends companies and their suppliers, at a minimum, obtain MSC and ASC Chain of Custody (CoC) certification, to establish a verifiable connection back to a sustainable fishery or responsible farm.

4. Ensure Habitat Conversion-Free Seafood

Source aquaculture products that do not themselves contribute to deforestation and habitat loss (e.g., via pond development) or use feed (e.g., soy, palm oil) that contributes to habitat loss.

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Unsustainable agriculture and aquaculture practices present immediate environmental, social and economic threats. The conversion of forests and mangroves for ponds harms wildlife, pollutes water and heats the atmosphere. Companies should work to remove habitat conversion from their supply chains, including feed—and can start by sourcing from ASC-certified farms and supporting aquaculture improvement projects. ASC’s shrimp standard is the only one that prohibits habitat conversion.

5. Ban Procurement of Endangered Species

Ban the procurement of endangered species identified at a minimum as IUCN Endangered and Critically Endangered and listed on CITES Appendix I & II. 

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WWF’s original mission has been to protect endangered species. Buying and selling such species contributes to their extinction; it can also have significant legal and reputational consequences.

WWF identifies endangered species using IUCN and CITES assessments and provides sourcing recommendations for at-risk freshwater and marine species found in seafood supply chains using our Endangered Seafood Guide.

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species where species are categorized from greatest extinction risk to least concern.
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, or CITES, is a Global agreement between governments to follow rules to monitor, regulate or ban international trade in species under threat.

WWF has identified additional endangered species that have not been assessed by IUCN or listed on CITES that are typically relevant to specific regions around the world. On a case-by-case basis, WWF may recommend an MSC or ASC certified option even if the species is listed as endangered.

How WWF Partners with Companies

To achieve the recommendations above, WWF engages with companies in the following ways to help them source more sustainable, responsible and traceable seafood and to inspire broader change in the sector.

Direct Partnerships

WWF strives to work with a company’s existing supply chain to drive improvements on the ground and on the water to increase the overall sustainability of the industry.

Assessment 
To evaluate the sustainability of their current supply chain and highlight risks and opportunities.
Action Plan 
Set and announce time-bound goals and develop internal timeline with key milestones
Internal and External Outreach 
Set and announce time-bound goals and develop internal timeline with key milestones
Education and Awareness Building
Assisting with both internal and external communication on sustainable seafood goals, including employee training materials, chef videos, webinars, and identification of and involvement in precompetitive platforms
 

Pre-competitive Platforms

WWF develops pre-competitive platforms to leverage cumulative demand for more sustainable and responsible seafood in key markets and targeted initiatives around the world. This is executed through strategically relevant platforms such as regional supply chain engagement efforts, roundtables, business forums, workshops, and sustainable seafood campaigns. WWF executes private sector convenings in several international markers including China, Japan, Singapore, Australia, India, South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico. WWF US is directly engaging over 25 pre-competitive seafood platforms.

WWF works with several multi-stakeholder, pre-competitive traceability initiatives like the Global Dialogue for Seafood Traceability and the Seafood Task Force to scale solutions across the industry.

INDUSTRY RESOURCES


Seafood Markets Brochure

What sustainable seafood means to WWF and how we work with companies to transition seafood supply chains to more sustainable, responsible, and traceable food systems.

Endangered Seafood Guide

A practical guide to help identify marine and freshwater species of most common concern in seafood supply chains to help buyers make more responsible choices in their seafood purchasing.

Sustainable Seafood Sourcing Recommendations: Fisheries

A tiered stepwise approach to engaging fisheries in their transition to sustainability.

How to Support Fishery Improvement Projects

What a FIP is, why you should support a FIP, what it means to be a FIP participant, and a list of tools to help establish a FIP if one does not already exist.

Marine Stewardship Council Quick Resources

Quick links to useful documents and tools from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for seafood buyers and suppliers.

Fisheries in Transition Guidelines

Guidelines defining Fishery Improvement Projects and Fishery Conservation Projects, including specific recommendations on implementing the guidelines.

Tuna Procurement Guidelines

Guidelines intended to provide a stepwise process to support tuna purchasers move toward sustainably sourced tuna product which are ultimately awarded the Marine Stewardship Council certification.

Traceability Principles for Wild Caught Fish

Six principles intended to provide a basic framework for the effectiveness and successful implementation of traceability systems and for enabling transparency in wild-caught fish product supply chains.

IUU Rule Fact-Sheet for Partners

An overview for partners of the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing products entering the U.S. market.

For additional helpful resources, please visit our Resource Library

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CONTACT US

To learn more about industry engagement at WWF, please contact our team at info@nullseafoodsustainability.org, or via the contact form below.