« November 2008 Table of Contents
Point of View: Ray Riutta
Executive director, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Juneau, Alaska
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.