The GSRA is a collaboration of seafood rating organizations focused on ensuring healthy oceans and freshwater bodies by supporting sustainable production of wild and farmed seafood through evaluating the environmental performance of seafood producers, advancing sustainable seafood issue salience and promoting sustainable products.
GOALS OF THE ALLIANCE
1. Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Seafood Rating Organizations (SROs)
2. Increase the standing and leverage of SROs within their spheres of influence and globally
3. Work with other SROs to harmonize fisheries and aquaculture environmental sustainability assessments worldwide
SUSTAINABILITY & RATINGS
The seafood industry is a highly complex system with a diversity of sustainability challenges. Harvesting fish and shellfish from the wild brings with it risks of overfishing, damaging marine habitat, altering food webs and catching threatened marine wildlife like sharks, whales and turtles. Farming fish and shellfish increases seafood availability but can also cause habitat and ecosystem alteration, impact wild populations, cause pollution and spread disease. Further, since fishing occurs out of sight, and most aquaculture occurs thousands of miles away from where its products are consumed, it can be hard for consumers to understand the gravity of the sustainability challenges or how their food choices can influence positive change.
Over the past 20 years, demand for environmentally sustainable seafood has been growing in many markets around the world. Consumers and businesses want to ensure that the seafood products they buy are produced in ways that do not come with a high environmental price tag. As a result, seafood rating organizations (SROs) have developed around the world in order to educate everyone from the general public to multinational corporations about the complex world of seafood production and inform them about which seafood is sustainable and which to avoid buying until improvements to production practices are made.
Seafood is the top traded food commodity globally (with 40% of fish and shellfish being traded internationally) and this requires the world’s leading SROs to work collaboratively to amplify their collective influence and better support global seafood buyers. Ratings programs have historically worked with fisheries management agencies of a single nation making it a challenge to assess the seafood production from other countries. For those nations that are net seafood importers, this has left a gap in seafood assessments that can be filled by the sustainability ratings of other organizations. Additionally, the independent development of SROs in different countries means that there are now a variety of approaches for assessing environmental sustainability of seafood products which can lead to confusion in an increasingly global marketplace.
The Global Seafood Rating Alliance (GSRA) was established in 2016 and is composed of 13 organizations spanning North and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The Alliance is working to align the assessment approaches of all member organizations in order to create consistency across each organization’s individual methodology. The long term goal is a global standard for seafood sustainability which accommodates the unique considerations for each region and/or culture. The first step is to develop guidelines for the core elements or principles which must be considered when evaluating the environmental performance of both wild and farmed products. The next steps will be to incorporate performance thresholds for each element as well as the process requirements for conducting these assessments. Ultimately, the Alliance aims to pursue a Global Seafood Sustainability Standard (common methodology) which will be adopted by member organizations so that seafood, regardless of origin or destination, is evaluated against the same core principles for environmental sustainability.
Further, the GSRA actively supports and advises the development of new seafood rating programs in order to advance the sustainability of seafood globally. The Alliance enables seafood rating organizations to act collectively for ocean conservation as well as improve their ability to consistently evaluate the sustainability of wild caught and farmed seafood products produced and traded across a complex, multi-national landscape.