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First African Retailer Commits To Sustainable Seafood

by the Fish Site Editor
17 October 2011, at 1:00am

SOUTH AFRICA - Availability of MSC-labelled seafood is set to increase on South African retail shelves following an announcement by Pick n Pay that it intends to sell only sustainable products across its entire fresh, frozen and canned seafood range, by the end of 2015.

South Africa’s second largest retailer becomes the first African retailer to follow a growing international trend in making a formal commitment to support sustainable fishing. Pick n Pay already stocks a variety of frozen South African hake products bearing the globally recognised MSC ecolabel and through this initiative they will transform their seafood operations and further expand the number and range of certified products.

The announcement builds on a close relationship between Pick n Pay, the World Wild Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) and the MSC and coincided with National Marine Week celebrations in South Africa. The theme for this year’s annual awareness campaign is “Changing Climate, Changing Oceans and 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’s commitment stipulates that by the end of 2015, it will only sell seafood products that are either:

  • Certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for wild-caught products;
  • Certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) or equivalent standard for farmed products;
  • Categorised as “green” by WWF’s SASSI programme;
  • From fisheries or farms that are engaged in credible, time-bound improvement projects.

Dr Morné du Plessis, WWF South Africa’s Chief Executive Officer said: “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 overfishing and climate change. We congratulate Pick n Pay for leading the way in setting these tangible conservation goals for the retail sector.”

The Southern Africa office of the MSC is working with a number of fisheries in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar towards certification and is also actively engaging with retail and food service partners in the region.

Martin Purves, the MSC’s Southern Africa Programme Manager, strongly supported Pick n Pay’s commitment, saying: “The MSC congratulates Pick n Pay for the leading role they are taking among African retailers on the path towards sustainable seafood and providing their customers with the best environmental choices."

"The MSC works with a number of retail partners in the region to assist them in offering a greater choice of sustainable options to shoppers. It’s great to know that Pick n Pay is very serious about using their influence as a leading retailer to help address the threats of overfishing and the degradation of marine ecosystems caused by unsustainable fishing practices. This commitment is a huge step forward in raising awareness of sustainability issues in Africa and follows the recent certification of the Shoreline Cafe against the MSC Chain of Custody standard for sustainable seafood, to become the first MSC-certified restaurant in Africa. It shows that South African businesses and consumers are becoming more responsible about the environmental impacts their choices are having."

the Fish Site Editor