Seafood Sustainability

30 April 2021

Seafood Sustainability: Significance of the MSC Blue Label

Seafood sustainability refers to the practice of managing marine resources in a manner that can ensure the availability of the valuable marine resources for future generations. Human activities leave a footprint on the environment. The challenge is to keep the impact of the activities to a minimum while also ensuring economic viability and food security.

What is the Marine Stewardship Council’s role?

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a non-profit initiative to manage seafood sustainability. As part of this objective, the MSC sets the standard for seafood sustainability against which fisheries are measured to determine if their management and activities are on par with the standard. This standard has a scientific foundation, making it possible to get objective and measurable results for the assessments. To further the integrity of the certification, independent experts conduct the assessments.

Fisheries that meet the requirements for seafood sustainability according to the assessment standard can display the MSC blue label, also referred to as the MSC eco-label, on their products that meet the requirements. The blue label indicates that the seafood is from a fishery that meets the certification requirements.

The aim of the eco-label is to reward fisheries that adhere to seafood sustainability practices. It also helps consumers to identify products that have been obtained through sustainable fishing practices.

What is the relevance for consumers of Sea Harvest Products?

As a leading fishery, the Group is focused on the integration of sustainable fishing and business activities in all areas of operation. This extends to the choice of partners and employment practices. With a strong focus on environmental protection, the Group supports seafood sustainability for long-term availability of resources and the protection of the environment.

As part of the focus on sustainable practices, the Group supports and promotes responsible management of the ocean resources for the benefit of the current and future generations.

Part of the South African hake trawl fishery

The Group operates within the South African offshore hake fishery sector.

The South African hake trawl fishery was the first hake fishery globally to have gained MSC certification back in 2004. With certification held for over 15 years, including the recent recertification, the deep-sea trawl industry of the country has proven its commitment to sustainable fishing practices.

To qualify for certification the fishery activities and management practices must:

  • Be handled in a manner that prevents over usage of the available resources, which can lead to a decline in available species.
  • The fishing activities must not have a significant negative impact on the environment.
  • The fishing practices must be responsibly managed.

Part of the Responsible Fishing Alliance

The Group is part of the Responsible Fishing Alliance (RFA). The aim of the RFA is to provide a forum for non-governmental organisations, responsible fishing companies and stakeholders to collaborate in protecting environmental resources through sustainable fishing management and practices. The Group, in line with the goals of the RFA, is also committed to sustainable practices. This is evident in various initiatives for responsible seafood management, protection of sea birds, and responsible activities to minimise the by-catch of endangered or at-risk species.

Examples of these activities include the use of devices to scare off birds in an effort to prevent them from becoming caught up in trawl lines and equipment. The RFA member efforts have been effective as proven by a decline of 90% in sea bird deaths because of scaring devices and positive changes in the by-catch management practices.

Seafood sustainability is at the heart of the RFA efforts. When consumers buy products from RFA members with MSC certification, they support seafood sustainability initiatives. Retailers and other partners in the supply chain also show their support for sustainable marine resources management by stocking products from fisheries that are MSC-certified.

Other initiatives

The Group has also been at the forefront of the demand for a moratorium on harmful practices, such as ocean-based phosphate mining in collaboration with the Safeguard our Seabed Coalition.

How is it relevant to your business and family?

By buying Sea Harvest products, partnering with the Group or being involved in the supply chain or investment in the Group, you promote seafood sustainability.


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