Conservation & Science

A global spotlight on sustainable seafood

Jennifer Kemmerly addresses the Our Ocean Conference on Sept. 15, 2016.

Today and tomorrow, Secretary of State John Kerry—a true ocean champion—will host the third annual Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C. He has invited leaders from around the globe, representing government, industry, nonprofit organizations and emerging young voices, to gather at the U.S. State Department for this significant ocean conservation event.

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s own Jennifer Kemmerly, our director of global fisheries and aquaculture, joined Secretary Kerry on the world stage  to spotlight our leadership in the global sustainable seafood movement.

The world’s seafood supply is at a critical inflection point. Nearly a third of all fisheries are at biologically unsustainable levels. In these unsustainable fisheries, we are catching the fish faster than they can reproduce—even as we need more food from the ocean to feed a growing human population. Aquaculture is a promising alternative, but poorly managed aquaculture operations can damage coastal habitat, spread disease and deplete wild fish populations that are turned into fishmeal for farmed species.

We can do better. In our drive to feed Earth’s 7 billion people, it’s critical we find ways to produce seafood responsibly.

Seafood Watch builds market demand for sustainable seafood, in part by distributing consumer pocket guides and a mobile app.

That’s why, for 16 years, the Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has been working in the United States and internationally, building market demand for sustainably produced seafood—and building a global reputation as one of the most effective forces for positive change.

Our Seafood Watch program uses science-based standards to assess fisheries and aquaculture operations that supply the North American market. In the U.S., consumers and businesses rely on Seafood Watch rankings to guide their seafood purchasing decisions. Because 90 percent of the seafood Americans eat is imported, our work—and our impact— is driving change around the world. Today, more than 85 percent of the U.S. retail market has committed to buying sustainable seafood.

Seafood Watch sets a high bar for sustainable fishing and aquaculture worldwide. It’s a bar that consumers, chefs and major seafood buyers are demanding. And the world is responding.

The Aquarium’s partnerships for sustainable seafood span the globe.

Jenn took this moment on the world stage to announce four exciting projects we’re working on now to accelerate global change in significant ways:

Partnership with USAID Oceans

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program has joined with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in a unique partnership to develop new technologies to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Asia-Pacific region —a major source of the global supply of seafood. Our work together will empower seafood producers in Southeast Asia to improve environmental and labor standards. In so doing, they will serve as a model for sustainability and good labor practices in other parts of the world. 

Global Seafood Ratings Alliance

The Global Seafood Ratings Alliance is a new partnership designed to improve the overall impact of seafood rating programs in the U.S. and around the world. Our Seafood Watch program and other leading seafood recommendation organizations from around the world—including those in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom—will collaborate to improve our communications, increase the reach and effectiveness our programs, and accelerate the movement toward global seafood sustainability.   

Social Risk Assessment Tool

Human rights abuses take a tremendous toll on the lives of people in the developing world who produce seafood for the global market. The scale of the abuses is now coming to light, and social justice organizations are giving a voice to the workers. That’s why the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program has partnered with Seafish and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership to create a groundbreaking assessment tool. This new tool, which will launch in early 2017, will help businesses identify the risk of labor abuses associated with the seafood they’re purchasing. We hope this tool will contribute to ending those abuses and improving the lives of workers involved both in fishing and aquaculture.

Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program is a driving force in the creation of the new Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative. Seafood producers from Southeast Asia formed this collaborative to improve the sustainability of the region’s shrimp aquaculture and fisheries—a direct response to growing North American market demand for sustainable seafood. Seafood Watch works alongside business and government partners in Southeast Asia to inform the design of innovative tools, which aim to improve seafood sustainability and labor practices in the region.   

Learn more about our Seafood Watch program, and what you can do to join the global movement.

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