‘Seafood savers’ eyes sustainable fishery

by Desy Nurhayati on 2013-04-04

A program called “Seafood Savers” initiated by WWF Indonesia is targeting getting more players in the fishery industry to participate toward improving sustainable fishing practices in the country.

Companies targeted to join the program this year are not only fish producers, but also retailers (supermarkets), as well as hotels and restaurants.

“This year, we want to engage not only producers, but also retailers, hotels and restaurants that buy seafood from the producers,” Margareth Meutia, WWF senior officer for the program, told Bali Daily on Wednesday.

The establishment of Seafood Savers aims to promote a sustainable fishery industry by ensuring that seafood is produced, caught, processed and distributed sustainably throughout the supply chain, from the sea to the plate.

Since it was established in 2009, the program has received positive responses from industry players. At present, 10 companies — comprising nine fish producers and one retailer — have joined the initiative.

Meutia said more retailers, hotels and restaurants were being targeted to raise awareness on sustainable fishing practices in the local industry and among the public in Indonesia.

“Most of the companies that have joined us are fish exporters. For these companies, applying sustainable practices is a must, due to demand by the importing countries. But we feel that we have to do more to campaign and educate on this issue domestically. Therefore, we want to engage more companies that are doing all their business here,” she said.

She added that the amount of seafood consumed domestically by retailers, hotels and restaurants was significant, thus making it more important to educate the public on sustainable fishing.

By joining the program, companies are assisted to apply principles that are in compliance with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). They will also get assistance to be able to achieve MSC or ASC certification.

According to the WWF, the global fishing industry has experienced massive expansion in recent decades. Its report indicates that areas exploited by global fishing fleets have increased tenfold since 1950.

By 2006, 100 million square kilometers, or about one-third of the ocean’s surface, had been impacted by fishing. Global marine catches have increased fivefold from 19 million tons in 1950 to 87 million tons in 2005, thus driving exploitation beyond carrying capacity.

Capture fisheries also face severe issues of by-catch, where a portion of a commercial fishing catch consists of marine animals caught unintentionally, such as juvenile fish, biologically important species and even endangered, threatened and protected species, causing further degradation to the marine ecosystem.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) reports confirm that the world’s aquaculture production increased from less than 1 million tons per year in the early 1950s to 52 million tons in 2008.

Unfortunately, this growth comes with the use of unsustainable practices that damage the surrounding environment, such as mangrove clearing, excessive use of chemical substances and the introduction of new species.

One of the companies that has joined this initiative is UD Pulau Mas, a Bali-based company exporting live grouper fish. The company dominates the market of live grouper in Indonesia, with 60 percent market share.

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