Third party certified sustainable seafood demand on the rise

Patrick Caleo's picture

Manager of Australia and New Zealand Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Patrick Caleo says that Australian consumers have the power to safeguard fish stocks for this and future generations by choosing certified sustainable seafood.

Healthy oceans are essential for thriving marine ecosystems, livelihoods and economies around the world, however, the world’s oceans are under pressure from human and environmental impacts. With a growing world population and rise in seafood consumption the pressure on seafood resources is escalating.  

Here in Australia we’re in a good position. We’re not only blessed with an abundance of quality seafood species to catch and consume, we also have some of the best managed fisheries in the world. This is not to say there isn’t room for improvement.

Consumers in Australia, however - like in many parts of the world including Europe and the United States - are increasingly looking for independent assurances of the sustainability of the products they purchase.

Similarly, increasing numbers of Australian retailers and brands are looking to provide consumers with third party certified sustainable seafood choices, such as those that carry the MSC’s blue ecolabel. There are now more than 130 MSC certified seafood products bearing the ecolabel on shelves around Australia - more than double the number available 12 months ago – and this trend continues to grow.

And it’s not just the large retailers getting on board. There’s increasing demand from restaurateurs, chefs and the food service industry for sustainably sourced seafood. On March 16 this year around 150 restaurants and workplace canteens, as well as thousands of individual Australians, took part in the MSC’s Sustainable Seafood Day (SSD). 2012 was our most successful year to date, we had more events promoting sustainable seafood and more than 10,000 likes on our new SSD Facebook page. For me, one the highlights of the day was celebrating the launch of Australia’s first MSC Chain of Custody (CoC) certified restaurant, the Harbour View Cafe at Taronga Zoo.

Australian fisheries are also increasingly recognising the market and ecological benefits of gaining independent verification of their sustainability. There are now five fisheries in Australia that have met the rigorous MSC standard for a well-managed and sustainable fishery. These fisheries can now proudly use the MSC ecolabel and promote the sustainability of their products to consumers and retailers. The number of MSC certified fisheries continues to grow. At the moment, there are 278 fisheries engaged in the MSC program around the world, 161 of which a fully certified. 

Certified fisheries in Australia include -

There are also a number of Australian fisheries currently in assessment including the Northern prawn fishery and the Macquarie Island toothfish fishery.

It can be difficult for consumers and retailers to identify sustainable seafood. MSC ecolabel makes it easy. When you see the ecolabel on a seafood product you can be assured that it has undergone a rigorous third party assessment in order to be certified sustainable.

Here at the MSC we encourage people to enjoy seafood sustainably by choosing products with the ecolabel. By choosing products with the MSC ecolabel you’re helping to safeguard the world’s seafood stocks for this and future generations.     
Patrick Caleo, Australia and New Zealand Country Manager for the Marine Stewardship Council based in Sydney. He received a B.S. degree in Fisheries Science from the Australian Maritime College, PG Dip in Marine Ecology from James Cook University and a MBA from Deakin University. Patrick has 20 years experience working with seafood, including nine years as a buying executive for one of Australia’s largest retail chains. Patrick joined the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2008 to help support the development of the program within the Asia Pacific region. MSC's fishery certification program and seafood eco-label recognise and reward sustainable fishing. The MSC organisation works with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups, retailers, restaurateurs and the public to promote the best environmental choice in seafood.