9 of the world's biggest fishing firms pledge to protect oceans

June 16, 2017, 8:48 a.m.
Fishing boats with a rainbow over them.
Photo: Christian Delbert/Shutterstock

An initiative announced during the United Nation'sOcean Conference is poised to make drastic improvements in how the oceans and fishing industry workers are treated by the fishing industry. Nine of the largest fishing firms in the world have voluntarily signed a pledge that would prevent overfishing, stop slave labor, and end illegal catches.

The Guardian reports:

The Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS) initiative, supported by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, marks the first time that companies from Asia, Europe and the U.S. have come together aiming to end unsustainable practices. Although the fishing industry is highly fragmented at the local level, with millions of small boats and subsistence fishermen, about 11 to 16% of the global catch goes to just 13 companies, who are thought to control about 40% of the most valuable and biggest species.

The nine fishing companies signed up to SeaBOS have a combined annual revenue of about $30bn (£23bn), making up more than one-third of that of the top 100 seafood companies. They pledged to eliminate from their supply chains any fish that could have come from piracy or other illegal sources. As much as half the world’s fish catch is thought to involve “black” or illegal fishing, where vessels trespass into other national waters, use illegal gear, catch more than their quota or target endangered species or fish for which they have no quota. These fish are often “laundered” to find their way into legal fish markets.”

While the goal of reaching sustainable and ethical fishing practices is both noble and necessary for the oceans and the fishing industry alike, we'll have to wait and see if the pledge has any teeth. The initiative is voluntary and lacks defined actions let alone defined goals. However, the members of SeaBOS are hoping to get more companies and governments to back the commitment to sustainability.