Fish and seafood are standard daily fare in many countries. The demand for this is stronger than ever as more consumers are looking to augment their diets with healthier alternatives. Seafood is, however, not a limitless supply. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, three-quarters of the world’s ocean fisheries are pushed past their limits, including 25 percent that have been fished to extinction. Hence, the need for sustainable sourcing has gotten more attention from non-profit organizations and private companies in recent years.
The newly-announced collaboration between wholesale club chain Costco and WWF seeks to address this issue. In line with this, WWF will assess 10 of Costco’s wild species products and use the information to help the supermarket chain develop a more sustainable seafood sourcing strategy. This is said to be a timely collaboration, coming only a few weeks after Costco announced the elimination of 12 species from its stores, including Atlantic cod, swordfish, and Chilean sea bass.
WWF’s partnership with Costco is the most recent, as it has already partnered with other major seafood suppliers, retailers and foodservice operators to develop a sustainable seafood sourcing policy.
Sysco Corporation, the US’ largest food distributor, will develop a strategy for responsibly-sourced tilapia. Also on the list is Marks & Spencer, which is working on draft standards for salmon, shrimp, and trout. Metro Group has likewise asked its pangasius suppliers to be certified by Global G.A.P, a private sector body that sets standards for certification of agricultural/aquacultural production processes. Coles, an Australian chain, has partnered with WWF to take advice on sustainable seafood sourcing.
Sustainable sourcing methods are said to reduce the problems associated with pollution and waste disposal. Moreover, it can cut down disease associated problems with isolated populations, and irresponsible handling of chemicals that taint feeder fish and could end up harming the consumers. Sustainable seafood sourcing also focuses on wild fishing practices and fishing techniques that are not environmentally-damaging resulting in less overfishing.
The commitment of a company towards sustainable seafood sourcing will not only help protecting ecosystems, but ensure the availability of seafood to meet rising consumer demand. Beside, it improves company’s reputation among its customers and stakeholders.