Seafood sustainability is complex, requiring many different conservation strategies. This complexity can be confusing, presenting a challenge for companies seeking to address the issue. To address this hurdle and to provide consistent guidance to businesses, FishWise and sixteen other leading conservation organizations from the United States and Canada partnered in 2008 to pursue a Common Vision for Environmentally Sustainable Seafood and work together as the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions. The Common Vision is an ambitious, but realistic, framework that businesses can use to address seafood sustainability. The ultimate goal of the Conservation Alliance is to preserve the health of ocean and freshwater ecosystems and ensure a long-term seafood supply. In 2016, the Conservation Alliance updated the Common Vision to reflect the excellent progress on sustainable seafood since its launch in 2008. The biggest change is an expanded focus from environmental sustainability to include social issues and traceability. Social issues in fisheries and aquaculture have become an increasing concern over the last few years and many companies have been asking for guidance. And traceability is necessary to fulfill both environmental and social commitments.
The Conservation Alliance brings conservation expertise to seafood buyers and suppliers so businesses and the ocean and freshwater resources they depend on can flourish. The organizations in the Conservation Alliance also invest time and effort to address some of the biggest barriers to seafood sustainability. This includes:
- Helping companies understand various certification and eco-label models.
- Strengthening U.S. and international fisheries and aquaculture management policies.
- Increasing consumer demand for sustainable seafood.
- Finding ways to recognize fisheries and farms working to improve their sustainability.
- Advising on the development and implementation of seafood traceability systems.
The Common Vision for Environmentally Responsible Seafood outlines six realistic steps companies can take to develop and implement a sustainable seafood policy.Â Businesses need to ensure the long-term viability of their seafood supply. The Common Vision provides a path businesses can take to move toward that goal. Since the Common Vision was released in 2008, and updated in 2016, dozens of companies have used it to create or deepen commitments to sustainable seafood.
A fishery improvement project is a multi-stakeholder effort to address environmental challenges in a fishery. These projects harness the power of the private sector to incentivize positive changes toward sustainability. Suppliers, retailers, and food-service companies can support the efforts of their source fisheries by participating in or buying products from fishery improvement projects.
The Conservation Alliance supports the efforts fisheries are making to improve the sustainability of their seafood products. There are many different ways to address management and environmental problems in fisheries, including policy change, targeted strategies such as bycatch reduction, and multi-stakeholder efforts called fishery improvement projects. We believe all of these methods are valuable and play an important role in helping fisheries become more sustainable over time.
In 2012, the Conservation Alliance released its first set of guidelines for fishery improvement projects with the expectation that these guidelines would need to evolve over time. Since then, the number of fishery improvement projects around the world has increased substantially.Â Based on feedback from the Alliance community and industry and fishery stakeholders, the Alliance updated the Guidelines for Supporting Fishery Improvement Projects in March 2015 to be as clear as possible and recognize advances in the fishery improvement project landscape.