Choosing sustainable seafood in Canada

Geographical location:

North America > North America > Canada

Pacific or pink salmon (Humpback) (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), spawning, migration upstream. British Colombia. Canada.
© WWF-Canon / Michel ROGGO

Summary

Once considered inexhaustible, the world’s oceans are in a state of global collapse. More than 70% of the world’s commercial marine fish stocks are either fully exploited or overfished. The seafood you choose can determine whether tomorrow’s generations will continue to enjoy our oceans’ riches.

In Canada, WWF is working with the seafood industry to promote sustainable fisheries and to raise the profile of sustainable seafood products with consumers and markets. Some of the work involves supporting the activities of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an independent organization that certifies sustainable marine fisheries and products.

You can do your bit by always looking out for seafood carrying the distinctive blue MSC label. This gives you a simple way to identify and purchase fish from well-managed sources.

Background

Worldwide, seafood consumption continues to rise, with over 1 billion people, or nearly 20% of humanity, relying on the ocean for protein. The human population has doubled in the last 50 years, but annual catch has quadrupled from approximately 20 to 90 million tonnes.

This means that pressure on fish stocks and the marine ecosystem has risen and continues to rise drastically. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates that 75% of all global fish stocks are overfished or fished to the limit.

Canada’s fisheries are under similar pressure, with many high profile collapses in the past decade, including Atlantic cod, Pacific rockfish, and Atlantic salmon. This pattern of fishing is clearly unsustainable.

Objectives

By 2020, WWF-Canada would like sustainable levels of seafood harvest achieved through credible third party certification.

Loblaw has committed to source all seafood sold in its retail locations from sustainable sources by the end of 2013. This commitment covers all canned, frozen, fresh, wild and farmed seafood products. The Loblaw Sustainable Seafood Policy Initiative represents Loblaw's commitment to conservation of marine resources and a healthy environment.

Solution

The Sustainable Seafood project will support delivery of conservation targets in WWF-Canada’s priority marine ecoregions as well as WWF-Canada’s corporate objective to engage urban Canadians in consumption and lifestyle choices. These 2 concepts are featured in WWF-Canada’s 2006-2010 Strategic Plan.

In addition, the project will help meet WWF’s global goal of using positive market-based pressure to drive fisheries’ sustainability.

Fostering an understanding of the sustainable seafood concept in rural fishing communities will be key to gaining support and reaching project conservation goals.

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