As I mentioned in my previous post on World Oceans Day, The concept for a 'World Oceans Day' was first proposed in 1992 by the Government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janero, and it had been unofficially celebrated every year since then. In 2002, The Ocean Project and World Ocean Network have helped to promote and coordinate World Oceans Day events worldwide. As a result of the United Nations General Assembly resolution passed in December 2008, World Oceans Day is now officially recognized by the UN on June 8th, every year!
I was fortunate to be able to speak with Stacey McCarthy, Communications Specialist with the WWF's Atlantic Canada Region. Fresh from of the World Oceans Day event that took place at the Halifax Harbourfront, Stacey chatted with me about the initiatives that the WWF focuses on in order to raise awareness about fishing and shopping for sustainable seafood. McCarthy says that, "Seafood demand is growing rapidly. To protect our marine resources, we must quickly adopt sustainable fishing practices."
According to the WWF, two-thirds of the world’s marine stocks are either fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted or recovering at a slow rate. (According to the FAO, 75 percent of the world's marine stocks are either fully exploited or over exploited). McCarthy states that, "Our (the WWF) goal is that all seafood comes from certified sources and well managed eco-systems."
Here in Atlantic Canada, the WWF has worked closely with grocery magnate, Loblaw in their formidable effort to offer only sustainable seafood to their consumers. "The WWF-Canada partners with companies who are committed to making substantial, positive environmental change." McCarthy notes that, "Retailers, like Loblaw, are one link in a chain from fisherman to processing plant to retail store to the consumer’s plate. All parties share the challenge of managing their part of the consumption chain as sustainably as possible.Since retailers are a key link in the supply chain, they need to be – and some want to be – part of the solution."
In 2009, Loblaw made a commitment entitled the Loblaw Sustainable Seafood Policy Initiative to source all seafood sold in its retail locations from sustainable sources by the end of 2013. This commitment will cover all varieties of seafood, whether they are canned, frozen, fresh, wild or farmed seafood products. View the full article here.
There are plenty of ways for consumers to support sustainable seafood. The WWF suggests following the guidelines as set by the Marine Stewardship Council. In order for fish products to obtain the MSC label, they must meet three overarching principles:
- The stocks must be sustainable. Any certified fishery must operate so that fishing can be expected to continue indefinitely and not over exploit the resource.
- The fishery must minimize environmental impacts and maintain the ecosystem on which the fishery depends.
- Fish must come from well-managed fisheries that meet local, national and international laws.
So when you're shopping for seafood, or going out to enjoy a tasty meal from the sea in one of the province's seafood restaurants, be responsible; ask your fish monger, server or grocery store clerk where your seafood came from. If they can't tell you, move on to some other option, as chances are, it wasn't fished or harvested sustainably. Check out the MSC's website for a list of seafood options that are currently 'Fish to eat'!
Look for this logo when shopping, as it means that your seafood option has wone the MSC's stamp of approval!