« November 2008 Table of Contents Pin It

Point of View: Ray Riutta

Executive director, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Juneau, Alaska

Property of SeaFood Business magazine

November 01, 2008

The health of the oceans, a successful sustainable seafood movement and vigorous seafood trade all depend on educated industry involvement and informed decision-making. This applies to the seafood industry - producers, processors and sellers - and to its customers.

Becoming informed requires an investment of time and independent thought on the part of both sellers and buyers. Sustainable fisheries management is complex, but there are some principles and criteria that can assist us in decision making. Interest in sustainable seafood is becoming more widespread, and the movement is achieving momentum among chefs, retailers, foodservice operators and consumers. Not caring and not knowing are no longer options for people in the seafood business. An understanding of the relevant issues will pave the way to corporate responsibility and allow seafood business operators to be confident about their sourcing practices.

Worldwide population growth and increasing demand for seafood make understanding seafood sustainability a necessity. International guidelines for evaluating sustainability have been established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (1995). There are also FAO guidelines for eco-labeling of wild fishery products. These international guidelines can serve as a universal reference point for evaluating whether fisheries are managed sustainably.

A new kind of responsibility is being shouldered by people in the seafood business today. It requires buyers and sellers alike to be clear about the origin of seafood products and understand more about how fisheries are managed. Today's savvy seafood buyer appreciates the importance of establishing harvest quotas based on science, of maintaining habitat protection and of regulatory enforcement to prevent overfishing. These things are increasingly vital to the health of seafood-related businesses, to the health of the planet and to the well-being of future generations.



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