With 87% of the world´s fish stocks either overexploited or fully fished (2012 United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation report); the state of the ocean’s fish stocks is a worldwide concern. Unless action is taken, overfishing will continue to affect our marine life, livelihoods and favourite seafood choices.
Woolworths has, for a number of years, shared this concern. We remain deeply committed to procuring all our seafood from sustainable fisheries and responsible farming operations and are working with local and international seafood sustainability awareness and certification programmes, including the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the WWF-SA’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) to ensure that all our seafood is responsibly sourced and traceable back to the ship that caught it or the farm that raised it. We are continually working to raise awareness of the issues and help our customers make informed choices.
Our milestones include:
- Introducing our Sustainable Seafood Policy (2008)
- Becoming the first retailer to sign the WWF-SASSI Retail Charter (2008)
- We began our sustainable seafood journey by compiling Wild Caught and Aquaculture questionnaires (2008)
- Introduced random DNA testing to ensure that species are correctly identified (2010)
- Stopped selling Cape Salmon as a result of depleted stock status (2010)
- Facilitated the process of getting South African farmed rainbow trout on the WWF-SASSI Green list (2011)
- Stopped selling longline Yellowfin Tuna due to sustainability concerns (2012)
- Established a business –wide Fishing for the Future working group (2012)
- Offered widest range of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified species in South African retail (2012)
- All our seafood counters are MSC chain of custody certified (2012)
- Announced new time-bound retail seafood sustainability commitments (2013)
Our Educational Initiatives
- Introducing colour-coded labelling for our seafood (2009).
- Developing our first ‘Fishing for the Future’ reusable shopping bag to raise awareness among customers (2009).
- Developing another ‘Fishing for the Future’ bag (2012) and a range of ‘Ocean Promise’ bags to raise awareness and funds for marine conservation (2013).
- Running a successful MSC-focused consumer awareness campaign and a second Fishing For the Future consumer awareness campaign (2012).
- Including Fishing for the Future as a case study in our curriculum-linked teacher resources and experiential store tours, as part of the Woolworths Making the Difference Educational Programmes (2013).
- Our annual Making The Difference schools coastal clean-up, raising awareness around the dangers of marine pollution whilst helping to clean up our beaches.
Having accomplished our milestones, we have now set ourselves some equally challenging but achievable goals for the next few years:
By end 2015, all our wild-caught seafood will be:
- Sourced from fisheries that are undertaking a credible, time-bound improvement project*,
- WWF-SASSI Green-listed, or
- Caught from MSC (or equivalent) certified fisheries.
All species produced by aquaculture will be:
- From aquaculture operations that are engaged in a credible, time-bound improvement project*, or, where applicable
- WWF-SASSI Green-listed, or
- Formally committed to achieving the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification or have other credible standards in place such as Certified as Global GAP, Best Aquaculture Practise (BAP), Quality Trout UK (QTUK).
And then by end 2020, all aquaculture species sold will be:
- From aquaculture operations that are engaged in a credible, time-bound Improvement Project*, or
- Will be WWF-SASSI Green-listed, or
- Where applicable, are ASC** (or equivalent) certified.
*Woolworths, with the assistance of WWF, will determine the credibility of these Improvement Projects on a case-by-case basis and will provide guidance to fisheries/aquaculture facilities as to what constitutes a credible, time-bound improvement project.
** These are source aquaculture operations for which there are relevant ASC standards to be certified against.
We will at all times be transparent in our sustainable seafood journey. For this reason we will annually publicise our progress by noting the ratio of Green listed to Orange listed species we sell. Currently 62% of what we sell, by volume, is Green listed.