Five ways you make a difference by choosing sustainable seafood this World Fisheries Day

By: Sea Harvest on 22 November 2021

Five ways you make a difference by choosing sustainable seafood this World Fisheries Day

World Fisheries Day is celebrated annually on 21 November. It’s a known fact that the oceans are under pressure. Overfishing, climate change and pollution pose challenges to the long-term sustainability of our marine ecosystems. These require our attention and the implementation of immediate solutions.

Sea Harvest understands and embraces the principle of managing natural resources in a way that satisfies the needs of today’s generation in a way that does not deny future generations this same privilege. It is why the fishing and seafood household name supported the adoption of a sustainable fishing global certification for the South African Deep-sea Hake sector by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2004 – a certification that was retained for a 4th consecutive five-year period in early 2021.

This World Fisheries Day, Sea Harvest has launched a consumer awareness campaign dubbed “It’s in our nature” in partnership with the global ocean not-for-profit, the MSC, to reiterate their commitment to harvesting marine resources in a sustainable manner.

Independent insights consultancy, GlobeScan, shows that health is the top motivator for purchasing seafood among South African shoppers. However, 1 in 2 of these seafood consumers are concerned that their favourite fish won’t be available to eat in the future. It is why they agree that, for plenty more fish to be left in the sea, buying fish and seafood from sustainable sources is vital and should be a non-negotiable.

For Sea Harvest, as a founding member of the South African Deep-sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA), knowing that the MSC has approved the sustainability of its hake trawl fishing operation, provides the company with the confidence that it is meeting an important expectation of its key stakeholders. Not only are target stocks healthy but the company is abiding by all local and international legal requirements and limitations and, as the largest employer on the Cape west coast, it is also protecting the long-term sustainability of scarce jobs in rural communities within the Saldanha Bay municipal area. For many generations, thousands of households have relied on Sea Harvest’s commitment to managing its business in a responsible and sustainable manner.

The MSC’s ‘blue fish’ ecolabel, as seen on the pack of various Sea Harvest products, empowers consumers to make smart and sustainable choices by identifying seafood that comes from a sustainable source. Here’s how this little choice in the supermarket can make a big difference to the planet:

1. You’re ensuring wild fish is abundant to enjoy for years to come.
Unsustainable fishing is a major international problem. In 1974, 90% of fish stocks were fished within biologically sustainable levels. Latest UN data shows that now less than two thirds are within these levels, putting this vital source of nutrition for millions at risk. By buying fish from sustainable fisheries certified to the MSC’s scientific standard, you’re encouraging more retailers to stock sustainably-sourced seafood and in turn encourage fisheries to improve their environmental impact and become certified.

2. You’re supporting whole ecosystems
The oceans are home to an extraordinary diversity of life, in fact up to 80% of all animal life on earth is found under the ocean surface. However, as well as reducing the amount of fish there is in the sea, unsustainable fishing affects local habitats and endangered species. Overfishing remains a leading threat to ocean biodiversity. This is why the MSC’s Standard requires fisheries to show evidence they are not having long-term or irreversible impact on vulnerable marine ecosystems.

3. You’re choosing a low carbon source of animal protein
As well as being a vital source of nutrition for millions, wild seafood is a relatively low carbon source of animal protein because it doesn't require land or feed to produce as with other sources of protein such as eggs, chicken and beef. Studies show that catching a kilogram (KG) of fish emits a much smaller proportion of CO2 compared to producing for instance a KG of red meat. Sustainable fishing therefore has a vital role to play in ensuring a secure food system while we also address the challenges of climate change.

4. You’re supporting livelihoods
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that globally the livelihoods of 1 in 10 people depend on fishing and aquaculture. Some coastal communities depend directly on fish for food security, but many more rely on the income from fishing to sustain them and their families, with about 50 million people directly employed in the seafood sector. By choosing seafood products with the blue MSC ecolabel you are directly supporting fishers that take care of our oceans and encouraging others to do the same.

5. You're joining a collective movement for change
To achieve a big blue future, and continue enjoying the seafood we love, we must all come together and show our passion for our oceans through the actions we take. By choosing seafood from sustainable sources, you’re joining a collective movement for change - you can take pride in protecting our powerful, awe-inspiring oceans. Because what you choose today can help protect tomorrow.