Since the establishment of our Seafood Watch program in 1999, the Aquarium has become one of the most respected sources of science-based information used by business and consumers to find and purchase seafood from ocean-friendly sources, both wild and farmed. In a global seafood market, our seafood program has expanded, using market-based incentives as well as advocacy for policy change to shift fisheries and aquaculture in more sustainable directions.
- We assess the sustainability of seafood sold in the North American market to advise consumers and businesses on which seafood to buy or avoid.
- Our science-based sustainability standards and fishery and aquaculture assessments serve as a foundation for the global sustainable seafood movement.
- We work with leading U.S. seafood buyers, distributors, retailers and chefs to develop and execute sustainable seafood commitments that promote more sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and create incentives for less sustainable ones to improve.
- Working with the U.S. government, international colleagues and regional fisheries management organizations, we're advancing policies to end illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, to improve traceability through the seafood supply chain, and to establish ecosystem-based management approaches that will help depleted fish populations recover.
Ensuring a Sustainable Supply Chain
The Aquarium worked with a U.S. Presidential Task Force to frame the critical issues that must underpin a comprehensive policy to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing on the high seas—fishing that represents a significant threat to global food security and sustainable seafood production. It's a critical issue, since 90 percent of seafood sold in the United States is imported. We're actively helping move the Task Force recommendations forward so that buyers can find safe—and legal—seafood when they shop.
Improving Seafood Standards
The Aquarium works with leading international eco-certification bodies to benchmark their standards against our standards. Today, many eco-certification standards are equivalent to ours; and our Seafood Watch science team has highlighted areas for improvement that other eco-certification programs are implementing for wild-capture fisheries and aquaculture production. As an example, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is developing regional standards for shrimp aquaculture based on our standards and on those of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Elevating shrimp production standards across Southeast Asia will have a global impact, as roughly 50 percent of shrimp imported into the U.S. are produced by ASEAN nations, with an annual market value of $2.5 billion.
A Markets-Based Approach
We use a markets-based approach to shift global seafood production in ocean-friendly directions. The rigorous, science-based sustainability standards of Seafood Watch inform seafood purchasing policies for more than 100,000 business locations across North America. Seafood Watch partners directly with the two largest foodservice companies in North America, and we're strengthening our relationships with other leading foodservice companies.
A Model for the World
We're collaborating with other NGOs working on seafood issues in Europe and elsewhere to develop a common methodology for assessing the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture—a methodology based on the Seafood Watch standards for wild fisheries and aquaculture. Organizations that produce sustainable seafood guides in the UK and in Europe are working with Seafood Watch to align their recommendations, processes and seafood assessments.