Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and United States
December 2017 - Present
Seafood is a critical food source for nearly three billion people. It uses less resources and space than land-based meat production, including chicken, pork, and beef, and it provides livelihoods for coastal communities around the world. As overfishing decimates wild fish populations, many countries are turning to aquaculture to meet the growing demand for fish protein. The amount of farmed seafood has grown exponentially to meet the growing demand for seafood overall: Aquaculture represents 53 percent of all fish consumed and 9 percent of the world’s animal protein consumption. However, the aquaculture sector continues to face serious sustainability challenges including disease outbreaks, water pollution, use of harmful antibiotics, and reliance on feed from wild fisheries.
To limit the environmental and social harm caused by aquaculture, many NGOs and companies have created certification and rating schemes to improve sustainability of production and provide assurance to customers and buyers that farmed seafood is healthy and sustainable. Seafood Watch, a program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, rates seafood products based on their sustainability and provides purchasing recommendations to consumers. Seafood Watch and other seafood rating organizations have inspired more than 85 percent of North America’s seafood retailers and top foodservice companies to commit to sourcing sustainable seafood.
However, the demand for responsibly produced seafood vastly outstrips supply. Barriers include local resistance from fishers and aquaculture operations to certification programs, high costs to implement sustainability measures, and a focus on the sustainability of individual farms. Many aquaculture products, such as shrimp, are produced by small farmers in Asia, which is responsible for 90 percent of the world’s aquaculture production. These small farmers tend to lack centralized organization (i.e., cooperatives or associations) and have limited capacity and resources to meet certification program standards and improve farm practices.
Since 2017, Seafood Watch has engaged Resonance as a strategic advisor to develop and implement its global aquaculture and fisheries improvement strategy, with a special focus on Asia. This includes designing and implementing partnerships and innovative collaboration models between seafood supply chain companies, producers, and governments.