Far too often consumers are left without answers when trying to find out if seafood products on their supermarket shelves have comes from sustainable sources. Inadequate labelling and a lack of publicly available sourcing policies have made it impossible for consumers and other market players to assess the sustainability of the seafood they buy and sell.

In recent years a ‘sustainable seafood movement’ has thrived. Consumers, retailers and seafood processors have started asking questions. The first step has been to demand transparency. As retailers started developing sustainable seafood purchasing policies they requested more accountability. They asked for sustainable seafood that has not been caught with destructive fishing techniques such as bottom trawling, and fish that does not come from overfished stocks.

This section of the Greenpeace website provides a quick insight into the history of overfishing and how we came to the current state of the oceans. It creates an overview over some of the main problems. It helps retailers and seafood processors to understand what a sustainable seafood purchasing policy is and how to develop one. Last but not least, with the Greenpeace “international seafood red list”, it lists 20 fish species at very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries (‘red-listed’) and explains the rationale for red-listing them. The international red list highlights key species companies should take action on as a first step in moving towards sustainable seafood purchasing policies.

What can I do?

We can all act to protect our oceans from overfishing, and from destructive fishing and farming practices by carefully choosing the seafood we buy.

If you are a retailer you can:

- Stop selling species that appear on a Greenpeace seafood red list.

If you have found a sustainable source of one of the species on the red list, ensure that it is clearly labelled, and information about its sustainability can be checked and confirmed easily.

Be as cautious when buying certified seafood as with any other seafood.

- Tell your customers that seafood sustainability is important to you.

Make sure your sustainable seafood policy is accessible to your customers in your stores and online.

Promote the more sustainable seafood you sell.

- Label all seafood clearly with the species name, origin and fishing method.

If this is not possible, ensure that this information is readily available to customers in the store and online. More info...

- Ask your suppliers for sustainable seafood.

Ensure that your suppliers provide full traceability of their products as a minimum requirement.

- Support the development of a network of marine reserves to help protect ocean life.

Encourage change by lobbying politicians who represent you, and by supporting organisations that advocate marine reserves.

If you are a consumer you can:

- Avoid species that appear on a Greenpeace seafood red list

These are species that are commonly sold in supermarkets and that have a high risk of being unsustainable.

Choosing other species can help take the pressure off the more popular species.

Be as cautious when buying certified seafood as with any other seafood.

- Buy from supermarkets that have, or are developing, sustainable seafood policies.

This will give you more chance of choosing more sustainable seafood products. Check out your national Greenpeace website to find out if your supermarket has been scored on its seafood sourcing policy. Also check the supermarket's website to find out if it has a policy.

If your supermarket does not have a sustainable seafood policy, demand to know when it will have one.

- Check the product label for the name, origin and fishing method of seafood you wish to buy.

If it's not properly labelled, ask for information from the fish counter or store assistants.

Don’t buy seafood if you don’t know where it is from.

As a general rule, try to choose local species caught by lines, pots or traps. For oily fish such as sardines, herring, and anchovy, those caught in purse seine nets can be the best choice.

For more details see the fishing methods page

- Spread the message about sustainable seafood.

Talk to your friends and colleagues and ask them to start thinking about sustainability when they buy seafood.

- Support the development of a network of marine reserves to help protect ocean life.

Encourage change by talking to politicians who represent you, and by support organisations that advocate marine reserves.


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