Whitefish | WWF
	© Oliver Lim

Sustainable Whitefish

Pollock, haddock, hoki, hake, cod, toothfish and orange roughy are all whitefish. Today, most commercially important whitefish stocks are overfished.

This is why we engage with fishing companies and the supply chain to transform whitefish fisheries into a sustainable, socially and economically viable business.
The widespread prevalence of whitefish around the planet, and the fact that some species like haddock and cod are among the ocean’s most formidable predators, make these fish a key component when it comes to the food chain.

However, most commercially important stocks are overfished. Some species could become commercially extinct if serious management measures are not implemented and enforced.
20-25% of the global whitefish catch comes from just 2 Arctic fisheries (source: WWF)

WWF approach

WWF commits to maintaining the whitefish population and growing it back to levels that have not been seen for several decades. Our work focuses on whitefish species in places such as the Arctic, the southern oceans and European waters.

A core aspect of our work involves helping seafood companies adhere to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification scheme.

WWF Targets

2020: priority populations of Alaska pollock, cod, hoki, orange roughy, toothfish and hake are MSC-certified, harvested without negative impact on the ecosystem and under implementation of a spatial area plan that protects vulnerable marine ecosystems.


45,9% of global whitefish is MSC-certified (data MSC report 2014-2015).
WWF's priority whitefish species (Alaska pollock, cod, hoki, orange roughy, toothfish and hake) that carry the MSC label represent 35.4% of the global whitefish catch.

► Read more about how WWF works with the seafood industry

Better Production for a Living Planet


	© WWF / Terry Domico
Trawler net filled with hake.
© WWF / Terry Domico
The MSC-certified South African Hake Trawl Fishery shows that responsible fishing means more than maintaining healthy fish stocks.

The issue of seabirds getting caught up in fishing gear came to light when the South African Hake Trawl Fishery applied for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. A study found around 18,000 birds, including albatrosses, were being killed each year.

Reducing seabird mortality was a condition of the fishery’s MSC certification. Working with WWF and BirdLife, the industry reacted quickly to introduce measures to scare the birds away. What began as a voluntary initiative was incorporated into mandatory fishing permit regulations in 2006. And this was only the beginning of an ongoing process to reduce lethal bird interactions across the industry, and with government involvement.

Find out about other commodities we work on


  • Overfishing due to unfit catch limits and illegal fishing;
  • Fishing down the food web;
  • Habitat destruction through use of unsustainable fishing gear;
  • Subsidies to increase vessel capacity and failure to set science-based catch quotas and recovery plans;
  • Wasteful discards and bycatch of marine birds and other mammal species.

Good management and responsible behaviour can result in:
  • Sustainable fishing quotas;
  • Reduced bycatch and discards;
  • Supportive legislation, effective monitoring and control;
  • Habitats and species protection;
  • Sustainable sourcing through credible MSC certification.

Be part of the solution

► Fish traders, processors, and retailers can stimulate more transparency in fisheries by selectively buying seafood products from fisheries with low or no bycatch, and that have been certified according to the standards of the MSC.

Consumers can search for MSC-certified products to find seafood caught and/or processed by companies that have taken steps to reduce their negative impacts on the marine environment.

Find out more about what you can do
	© MSC
    The Marine Stewardship Council exists to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by recognizing and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with our partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis. msc.org

Priority Countries

  • Production
    Argentina, Chile, Canada, European Union, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, South Africa, USA, China.

    European Union (Germany, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom), Canada, Japan, Norway and USA.

    Present focal regions
    Southern Africa (South Africa and Namibia), Latin America (Chile, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay) Arctic Seas (Russia, Norway, USA), North Atlantic (Canada, EU), New Zealand.

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