Sustainable Seafood

The sustainable seafood movement is growing as consumers become increasingly interested in choosing seafood from fisheries that are managed sustainably and don’t harm the environment. Seafood consumers are increasingly aware of the threats to global fish stocks. This greater awareness provides the incentive for consumers to encourage markets to demand sustainable products from well-managed fisheries.

Organisations like the Seafood Choices Alliance aim to help sustain wild, diverse and healthy ocean ecosystems that will exist long into the future. This is done by encouraging consumers and businesses to purchase seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that don’t harm the environment. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent, non-profit organisation with an ecolabel and fishery certification programme for wild fisheries. Watch a video from the ABC's Landline program on the need (or not) for independent sustainability certification of Australian fisheries.

At the same time fisheries and aquaculture are, directly or indirectly, a source of livelihood for over 500 million people, mostly in developing countries. While biodiversity is important, people need food security.

 “Sustainable management of fisheries cannot be achieved without an acceptance that the long-term goals of fisheries management are the same as those of environmental conservation” (Preikshot & Pauly, 2005) The implementation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) allows the Australian Government to assess the environmental performance of fisheries and promote ecologically sustainable management.

The Commonwealth Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries outline specific principles and objectives designed to ensure a strategic and transparent way of evaluating the ecological sustainability of fishery management arrangements.


Bassan, J. 2011. Not all seafood is equal. South African Journal of Science 107(5/6): 8–10.

Cooke, S.J, Murchie, K.J. & Danylchuk, A.J. 2011. Sustainable "Seafood" ecolabeling and awareness initaitives in the context of inland fisheries: increasing food security and protecting ecosystems. BioScience 61(11): 911–918.

Norse, E.A. & Crowder, L.B. (eds) 2005. Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea's Biodiversity. Island Press. ISBN 978-1-55963-662-9

Jacquet, J.L. & D. Pauly. 2007. The rise of consumer awareness campaigns in an era of collapsing fisheries. Marine Policy 31: 308-313.

Jacquet, J. & D. Pauly. 2008. Trade secrets: renaming and mislabeling of seafood. Marine Policy 32: 309-318.

Preikshot, D. & Pauly, D. 2005. Global Fisheries and Marine Conservation: Is Coexistence Possible? Chapter 11, pp. 185–197, in E.A. Norse & L.B. Crowder (eds). 2005. Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea’s Biodiversity. Island Press, Washington DC

Author: Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon