More than 70 % of our planet’s surface is covered by water, creating a vast habitat for thousands of species. Many of these species however are endangered because of the increasing fishing activities of humans. Fish and seafood make up a large part of our food resources, making us hugely dependent on the life existing in our seas, rivers and lakes. Because the thriving of these life forms is so crucial when building a future where humans and nature live in harmony, WWF is actively promoting sustainable fishing all over the planet. Conservation programmes such as Smart Fishing Initiative and Market Transformation Initiative aim towards recreating healthy fish populations and saving endangered species by educating about and researching responsible fishing practices.
With fishing tools becoming more and more effective, fishing activities across the globe are more intensive than ever. To become economically efficient, fishermen often go beyond a level that is environmentally sustainable. Because fish populations can’t recover fast enough however, the sea’s natural resources are becoming depleted.
In the Smart Fishing Initiative, WWF focuses on promoting responsible fishing, using fishing tools that minimize the impact on marine habitats and endangered species, as well as conserve those resources that are so important human life.
In the Market Transforming Initiative WWF works on encouraging sustainable fishing by approaching and influencing the global fish industry. The programme focuses on promoting the consumption of seafood products which are responsibly sourced, namely the products which meet the standards of the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) and ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council). WWF also supports fisheries that take part in the FIP /AIP (Fisheries/Aquaculture Improvement Project), in order to be certified with MSC/ASC.
Providing fishing tools that preserve the environment:
The circle hook used for tuna fishing has a smaller impact on sea turtles
Appropriate tools for blue crab catching can help to sustain their population
Certain tools can help to rescue sea turtles and other unwanted catch.
Training local fishers:
They are shown how to rescue sea turtles and to use more environmentally friendly tools
Promote communication among fisheries:
In forums fishers can exchange experiences on how to use circle hooks
Fishers are sent to the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD)
Communication programmes educate fishing communities and school children about the protection of turtles, marine mammals, sharks and juveniles of the target species (tuna)
Research sustainability of fishing activities:
Observers onboard of longliners and handliners measure the impact of fishing on sea turtles and protected species, at the same time guide fishermen on using de-hooker tool
Promote sustainable fisheries through market approach by informing about and encouraging MSC certification
Promote cooperation among the supply chain in fisheries toward sustainable development
Raise awareness of local consumers about green products, reduce demand on non- sustainable products.
The certification is awarded to fisheries practising sustainable fishing by following 3 principles:
Maintaining sustainable fish stocks
Minimising environmental impact
Ensuring effective management.