Are you a Friend of the Sea? SMS check seafood before you buy it! –

Are you a Friend of the Sea? SMS check seafood before you buy it! Published:  12 March, 2007

WHETHER you are at a restaurant or in a supermarket, consumers will soon be able to receive detailed information about the environmental status of seafood before they buy.

By writing in the name of the species’ common name (e.g. cod) or scientific name (e.g. Gadus morhua), FRIEND OF THE SEA will answer back with a comprehensive description of the most recent stock assessment and fishing method impact and selectivity.

If the fishery is sustainable, the system will tell you it’s a Good Choice. If the fishery is unsustainable, the stock is depleted or on the IUCN Redlist of endangered species, you will be notified about the conservation concerns regarding the fishery.

FRIEND OF THE SEA, which claims to be the main certification scheme for products from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. It is the only scheme in the world covering both wild caught and farmed seafood (offshore or inland), providing a unified logo for all certified seafood products.

Fisheries conform and are approved if the stock is neither depleted, overexploited or data deficient and if the fishing method generates less than 8% discards (the average worldwide) and has no impact on the seabed.

An independent accredited body, currently Bureau Veritas, audits products for chain of custody and aquaculture plants based on a strict checklist. On this aspect, Friend of the Sea follows recent FAO Guidelines for certification of products from sustainable fisheries. The certification process is strict but fast, comprehensive but relatively inexpensive, as the yearly fee covering both audit costs and license to use the logo totals 1.000,00 euros per product. Products from traditional fisheries in developing countries are not audited at cost, in order to facilitate their involvement in the sustainable seafood products market, as suggested by FAO.

FRIEND OF THE SEA has encountered a strong market response and in only 2 years since it launch, Carrefour, Coop and Iper markets around Europe have joined and assessed all their private label products. Some have decided to take off endangered species from their shelves. Both fresh, frozen and canned products are already on the European, US and African markets with the logo. Among these, organic salmon, halibut and cod farmed in the Shetland Islands; tuna fished pole an line in the Azores; Mediterranean anchovies, Atlantic sardines and Mackerels fished by purse seiners; turbot farmed in Northern Spain; Italian Caviar from farmed sturgeon and many others.

“At the current rate of expansion, we expect in 2008 to become the main international certification scheme for sustainable seafood” affirms Dr Paolo Bray, director of FRIEND OF THE SEA.” Key success factors are the simple and clearer message, the strictest approval criteria, the lower cost, and the non profit, industry independent soul of our mission”. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.