Third-party labels

The Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification label indicates a seafood product has been produced according to the key elements of responsible aquaculture, including environmental and social responsibility, food safety, animal health and welfare, and traceability.

Assessment criteria: BAP Standards available online – development coordinated by the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA).

About the label: The BAP program uses stars to denote how much of the aquaculture production chain is sustainable. Please have a look here at the star denotations.

Verification: BAP certified products have been assessed by an independent third party.

Product examples: Look out for BAP barramundi, shrimp, catfish, tilapia, pangasius, carp, salmon, trout, mussels, clams, oysters and scallops, among others.

Labelling standards: Compliant to FAO Guidelines Aquaculture Certification and the Global Food Safety Initiative.

For more information 

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Ecolabel logo is the seafood logo you are most likely to come across in Hong Kong. It is based on the measurement of the sustainability of wild-catch fisheries, which is assessed on sustainability of fish stocks, management and environmental impact using 28 performance indicators such as stock status, legality and information availability.

Assessment criteria: The MSC Fisheries Standard, available online.

About the label: Although you may see the MSC label on seafood products in the supermarket, you are currently less likely to see it on restaurant menus. This is because while a restaurant may serve MSC certified seafood, it cannot display the logo unless the restaurant itself has been certified (chain of custody). In Hong Kong for example, the Shangri-La Hotels have chain of custody certification and thus can display the logo on their menus indicating there is full traceability from source to plate.

Verification: MSC certified products have been assessed by an independent third party.

Product examples: Watch out for a wide range of MSC certified seafood.

Labelling standards: Follows best practice labelling requirements set by both the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation and the ISEAL Alliance (International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling).

For more information 

Naturland is a farmers‘ association founded in 1982. Its standards for organic aquaculture cover the farming of fish and crustaceans, mussel cultivation, the cultivation and collection of marine macroalgae and the cultivation of microalgae, and sustainable capture fishery. According to the Monteray Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch can defer to Naturland Freshwater Fishes certification as an assurance that certified products meet at least a yellow “Good Alternative” seafood recommendation.

Assessment criteria: Standards of the Naturland Association

Verification: Producers and processors alike are subject to annual inspections by qualified inspection bodies. Naturland mandates inspection bodies to perform regular inspections of farmers and processors at least once every year

Product examples: Organic aquaculture shrimps and mussels, sustainable herring capture fishery

Labelling standards: Naturland is one of the major global certification organisations for organic agricultural produce. It is inspected once a year by neutral, qualified organisations, such as as the International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS) to verify that the certification was performed according to the defined norms of ISO/IEC 17065.

For more information

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) aims to be the world’s leading certification and labelling programme for responsibly farmed seafood. The ASC runs an ambitious programme to transform the world’s seafood market and promote the best environmental and social aquaculture performances. Fish bearing the ASC label originate from farms that respect the environment and adhere to strict social conditions.

Assessment criteria: The ASC Standard, available online.

About the label: Although you may see the ASC label on seafood products in a supermarket, you are less likely to see it on restaurant menus. This is because a restaurant may serve ASC certified seafood, but cannot display the logo unless the restaurant itself has been certified.

Verification: ASC certified products have been assessed by an independent third party.

Product examples: Watch out for ASC certified tilapia, pangasius, abalone, clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, salmon, shrimp, and serial/cobia, among others.

Labelling standards: Meets the requirements set by the ISEAL Alliance and United Nations ILO (International Labour Organisation) regulations.

For more information 

The Friend of the Sea (FOS) label indicates that a seafood product (aquaculture and wild capture) has been sourced with selective fishing methods to reduce ecosystem impacts. In particular, only products from stocks that are not overexploited can be certified. The certification also ensures standards in terms of energy efficiency and social accountability. FOS-certified aquaculture products are produced without the use of growth hormones, respecting water parameters and critical habitats.

Assessment criteria:Friend of the Sea sustainable fishery and aquaculture criteria available online.

About the label: This is the only scheme currently that can certify both wild-caught and farmed products, so the label will appear on both types.

Verification: FOS certified products have been assessed by an independent third party.

Product examples: Look out for FOS mussels, grouper and toothfish among others.

Labelling standards: Follows FAO Guidelines

For more information 

Self-declared labels

This is a label used by Marks and Spencer (M&S) to identify products that it views as sustainable. The logo and the standards are currently being redeveloped in the UK, so these will eventually filter into the Hong Kong market. The information listed here is relevant to the logo identified here that is currently available in Hong Kong.

Assessment criteria: M&S aims to make sure the fish they sell is either certified as sustainable, part of a Fishery Improvement Project or is working closely with WWF to make improvements.

About the label: You will often find this label on frozen products as well as on M&S ready meals and Food To Go

Verification: As this is a self-declared label, no third-party verifies the assessment. However, M&S indicates that they work closely with WWF and the Marine Conservation Society.

Product examples: Look out for cod, haddock, lobster, crab and prawns, among others.

Labelling standards: Unknown

For more information

Saucy Fish is a brand produced by the Saucy Fish Company in the UK, a founding member of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition. Its products follow the Coalition’s Voluntary Code on Seafood Sourcing and also its code on labelling. This means that the seafood is sourced responsibly according to the requirements of the Code and at least 95% (by weight) of the component fish in the product or dish must satisfy the criteria for claims regarding sustainability or responsibility.

For more information  
Read about the coalition

John West Australia’s ‘Our Oceans Forever’ label represents a commitment to overhauling the company’s fishing practices to help ensure healthy oceans. It includes commitment to:

i) responsible and ethical sourcing of its fish supply, working alongside national and international bodies to implement practical solutions; and
ii) continually improving and developing sustainable fishing practices.

From December 2015, John West Australia has moved its entire range of skipjack tuna to become Marine Stewardship Council Certified (MSC). The company is also committed to increasing the responsibly sourced aquaculture seafood it supplies and sells and has a preference for purchasing ASC certified seafood.

(Note – John West Australia is independent of John West (EU), a company that has been hit by sustainability scandals associated with its seafood supply chain).

Assessment criteria:
Where MSC/ASC products that meet John West Australia’s product specifications are not available, the company use:

i) Responsibly sourced seafood products as advised by WWF Australia, or
ii) Seafood products sourced from a fishery, or
iii) Aquaculture operation undergoing an improvement project recognised by WWF Australia

About the label: The label is the signature of John West Australia’s sustainability programme based on an alliance between MSC and WWF. Its product labels, however, provide information to enable consumers to trace its salmon and tuna products from catch to can – including species, where it comes from, and how it was caught. You can also see the journey of the fish by entering the code on your can at TraceYourFish.com.au

Verification: Self declaration

Product examples:
Canned tuna and salmon

Labelling standards: Not known

For more information

Read about John West Labelling
Trace Your Fish Here

Forever Food Together represents a commitment by Iglo (Europe’s largest frozen foods business) to source food responsibly (100% of all food products by 2020). With reference to fish, it means that the product is responsibly sourced to specific Sustainable Fisheries Policy requirements.

Assessment criteria: Iglo Sustainable Fisheries Policy requires that all fisheries meet internationally agreed principles of Responsible Fisheries Management including FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, have full traceability in place to demonstrate the provenance of our fish which are then verified with independent assessments. Iglo use the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for independent assessment and is now the largest adopter of the MSC standard across Europe.

About the label: Birdseye is one of the company’s core brands and so you may see this logo with the MSC logo on many birdseye products. The Forever Food Together Fish Provenance Site also helps you learn more about the geography of our oceans and the provenance of fish products. In order to discover where your fish comes from, enter the Provenance Code on the Birdseye website. You will find the code on the side of the packaging, next to the best before date.

Verification:
Second Party

Product examples:
Birdseye fish fingers and wide range of battered bread crumbed fish fillets

Labelling standards:
Sustainable seafood coalition

For more information:
Forever Food Together
Birdseye

Hong Kong-based seafood supplier Pacific Rich Resources (PRR), has created its own label to assure customers of the sustainability of its seafood products that are not third-party certified. Products are sold under its own brand name, ‘Pacific Rich Resources’, as well as its premier ‘Hanselman Brothers’ brand, and its ‘Wild Ocean’ brand, the latter being dedicated to Icelandic seafood.

Assessment criteria: PRR’s ‘sustainability plus’ accreditation is based on full traceability, available online via its product bar code (see below).

About the label: The Sustainable seafood label includes a 12 digit barcode that can be entered into PRR’s website to provide the consumer with full traceability, including catch method, species, area caught, place of origin (certificate of origin and health certificate), country of production, production factory.

Verification: Self-declaration

Product examples: Look out for Alaskan Pacific cod, Canadian lobster, yellow fin sole, Icelandic mackerel and more (all frozen).

Labelling standards: Follows internally set standards as used by other certification schemes, such as those listed on this website.

For more information

Waitrose has a responsible fish sourcing policy whereby they only sell fish that is responsibly caught and their suppliers have to demonstrate the traceability of their products. For their products from aquaculture, they ensure the farms they work with have the highest standards of animal welfare and minimise environmental impact through responsible feeds and management. Waitrose has made a commitment that by 2017 all of their own label branded seafood will be certified as sustainable by third party standards such as those listed on this site.

For more information

Fish for Life is a self-declaration label found on Young’s seafood products. Young’s often source seafood certified by other schemes, such as those listed on this website, but for those that aren’t independently certified, they perform a full in-house assessment. They award this label taking into account legality, environmental impact, fishing gear, welfare etc.

Assessment criteria: Seafood products sold by Young’s must either be:
i) low risk, that is from fisheries or fish farms with credible and independent certifications such as MSC, or
ii) medium risk (or in extreme cases high risk), that have been through the in-house assessment and where Young’s believes it can improve the sustainability operations.

Verification: As this is a self-declared label, no third-party verifies the assessment. However, Young’s indicates that it does work closely with a number of entities including government, NGOs and academic institutions.

Product examples: A full range of Young’s seafood can be found here.

Labelling standards: Follows the Sustainable Seafood Coalition Code

For more information

Additional labels

You may also come across the following labels, however we were unable to determine the criteria against which the products are judged to be sustainable.

BC Wild Canadian

NZ Sustainable

Sustainable Salmon

WWF Seafood Pocket Guide

Please obtain your copy here

WWF Seafood Guidebook

Please obtain your copy here

Three questions to ask when using your seafood guide:

  • What species is it?
  • Where is it from?
  • How was it caught, or was it farmed?

Get Updates

WWF Seafood Pocket Guide

Please obtain your copy here

WWF Seafood Guidebook

Please obtain your copy here

Three questions to ask when using your seafood guide:

  • What species is it?
  • Where is it from?
  • How was it caught, or was it farmed?

Get Updates