Pick n Pay commits to transforming its seafood operations by 2015

As South African celebrated National Marine Week national retailer Pick n Pay announced its plans to commit to transforming its entire fresh, frozen and canned seafood operations by the end of 2015 in a bid to address the growing concern about the exploitation of global seafood resources.

The aim of National Marine Week — celebrated in October each year — is to create awareness of the marine and coastal environment and the benefits that our coasts and oceans and their resources provide us with.

The theme for this year’s annual awareness campaign was “Changing Climate, Changing Oceans, Changing People”.

Pick n Pay’s marketing and sustainability director, Bronwen Rohland said: “As one of the country’s largest retailers, we cannot ignore the fact that seafood is inextricably linked to food security and that it provides the primary source of food or income for 2.6-billion people globally. As a retailer and significant role player in the seafood industry, we will help to drive positive change in fisheries by supporting and promoting sustainable seafood choices from legal and responsibly managed sources.”

Pick n Pay is therefore dedicated to changing its fresh, frozen and canned seafood operations to ensure that, by the end of 2015, it will only sell seafood products which are either:

  • Certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for wild-caught products;
  • Certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) for farmed products, or equivalent standards;
  • Categorized as “green” in terms of the World Wild Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI). Fish species on SASSI’s “green” list, are considered the most sustainable choices (from the healthiest and most well managed populations). These species can handle current fishing pressure, or are farmed in a manner that does not harm the environment; or
  • From fisheries or farms which are engaged in credible, time-bound improvement projects.

Pick n Pay has been actively engaging with WWF-SA SASSI through SASSI ?s Retailer Participation Scheme since its inception. Last year the retailer announced that it had signed a partnership agreement with the WWF Sustainable Fisheries Programme in an effort to support the conservation organization’s Sustainable Fisheries Programme. This three-year partnership agreement is worth R6.1-million and aims to restore over-exploited fish stocks to sustainably man- aged levels, while maintaining or improving the state of other stocks.

Through the application of a so-called Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management, the impact of destructive fishing practices will be reduced to acceptable levels. This means the state of all marine organisms and interconnected processes are considered when fishing decisions are being made. As a result of these new commitments under this partnership, Pick n Pay will become the first retailer in Africa to make this kind of commitment to sustainability.

“This is a giant leap forward in our ongoing efforts to keep our fish stocks at healthy levels. WWF believes that corporate engagement is key to transforming markets and for adopting and promoting sector-wide shifts to sustainable development and corporate best practice. Many marine ecosystems are currently facing unprecedented threats from human activities such as over- fishing and climate change. We congratulate Pick n Pay for leading the way in setting these tangible conservation goals for the retail sector,” said Dr Morné du Plessis, WWF South Africa’s Chief Executive Officer.

“This commitment by Pick n Pay proves that they are very serious about addressing the threats of overfishing and the degradation of marine ecosystems caused by unsustainable fishing practices. The MSC congratulates them for the leading role they are taking among African retailers on the path towards sustainable sea- food and providing their customers with the best environmental choices,” added Martin Purves, MSC Southern Africa’s Programme Manager.

Because WWF-SA SASSI supports the MSC as the leading marine eco- label, MSC-labeled products available in SA are automatically placed on the WWF-SA SASSI green list.

Visit www.wwf.org.za/sassi for more information on SASSI.

This article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper as an advertorial supplement

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