The world is facing an unprecedented crisis of overfishing, with a high percentage of fish stocks being either overfished, or fished at their biological limit. Recognizing the urgent need to manage fishing more sustainably for the benefit of livelihoods, ecosystems, international trade and security, WWF has called for a new global seafood traceability system to give consumers, businesses, and governments full access to information about marine fishing practices. Tracing fish products from “bait to plate” is a means for linking markets to sustainable fishing practices, and for ending the illegal fishing that continues to be a major driver of fisheries depletion.
In a groundbreaking statement issued at the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, WWF joined private and public sector leaders in calling for a new global system to trace the origins of fish products “from bait to plate” . The statement is the first multi-stakeholder call for such a system, and could herald an important role for the World Economic Forum in support of sustainable fisheries.
Creating a reliable system for seafood traceability will require harmonizing both regulatory and commercial practices across national boundaries and across subsectors of the seafood industry, ranging from small scale producers in developing countries to the major retail chains and brand owners in the European Union, US, and Japan.
Meanwhile, WWF reports that experts estimate that 20 percent of worldwide fish catches come from illegal fishing practices. Solutions depend heavily on giving market actors and regulators reliable information to know which fish products are legal and sustainable and which are not. But currently, access to this information and the mechanisms needed to trace wild caught fish to their origins are the exception rather than the rule.
“The stakes are high for the global seafood industry, as well as for the hundreds of millions of people around the world who depend on fish for protein and on fishing for their livelihoods,” said Jim Leape, Director General, WWF.