What about certification?

Background - 24 June, 2009
Certification and the labelling of certified products aim to identify products that follow certain minimum standards or regulations, such as standards for quality, organic production, fair trade, or sustainability.


A variety of seafood certification schemes have been developed over the past decade, all claiming that the fish that they certify have been sustainably caught or farmed and that they are the best option for consumers to purchase.

However, Greenpeace is of the opinion that no fully credible certification system for sustainable seafood currently exists. At present, a seafood label can at best help to identify the best available choice from a particular fishery. It is certainly not an indicator of whether the purchase of such products is the best choice in absolute terms.

A good seafood certification programme needs to:

  • have strong, clear standards that adequately tackle the challenges facing our oceans and incorporate the fundamental principles of precaution and an ecosystem approach to fisheries management;
  • involve a wide group of stakeholders in all the processes of the programme;
  • be fully transparent in the way it works; 
  • be independently assessed and monitored by external organisations.

Currently seafood certification programmes fall short of many of these requirements. Some key seafood certification programmes have been assessed in more detail: