During the past 50 years, the demand for seafood has increased five-fold. As a result, three-fourths of the world’s fisheries are being fished at or beyond sustainable limits. Only 10 percent of large ocean fish like tuna and halibut still exist. And it’s not just the health and supply of fish that is at stake; over 1 billion people rely on fish as their primary source of protein, and 200 million people rely on the industry as their main source of income. For each of these reasons, maintaining marine life has never been more important than it is today.
As the world’s largest retail seller of seafood, we know that by working to offer sustainably harvested seafood at affordable prices, we can impact not only our customers, but the industry as a whole. So, through our Seafood Network, we are working on several programs to help change the way we offer seafood to our customers, and hopefully in turn, positively change the larger seafood marketplace.
In February of 2006, we made a pledge to source all wild-caught fresh and frozen fish for the North American and UK market from fisheries that meet the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) independent environmental standard within the next three to five years – a pledge that ASDA has already fulfilled. For farm-raised aquaculture products like shrimp, we ask suppliers to obtain certification by the Aquaculture Certification Council, Inc. (ACC), an independent, non-governmental body established to certify social, environmental and food safety standards at aquaculture facilities around the world. The ACC audits the processors’ hatcheries and farms to ensure they comply with the best aquaculture practices as established by the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA).
Today, we have 22 products available in all our stores – including wild-caught salmon – that are MSC-certified. This is only a start, but we are confident that we will be able to meet our three to five year goal. Our farmed-shrimp factories have been certified by the ACC as using responsible practices and controls, and we are currently in the process of having shrimp farms become ACC-certified as well. This has already been completed by ASDA. Beyond certifying the products we sell, we are working with Conservation International and other organizations to research investing in Marine Protected Areas that help preserve ocean wildlife and healthy fish populations.
Clearly, protecting our fisheries and ocean wildlife is an issue that knows no borders. Therefore, our next step in this arena will be to replicate the progress we have made in North America on a broader, international scale. By continuing to leverage the strength of our Network and using our learnings from our U.S. efforts, we are confident that we will be able to get there.
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Facts and Figures
In January 2007, the Seafood Choices Alliance recognized Peter Redmond, divisional merchandise manager, Deli and Seafood, with the Seafood Champion Award for outstanding leadership in elevating the issue of seafood sustainability.