Center for Environmental Studies

Alison Carter on “Improving Fisheries Sustainability by Leveraging the Global Seafood Market”

Alison Carter is a Senior Program Officer with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s largest conservation organization. The mission of WWF is “to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth” and “to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature.”

Carter came to log lunch on March 7, 2014 to talk about her work with WWF in sustainable fishery management. Carter emphasized the importance of sustainable fishery management especially considering that 10 percent of the global intake of animal protein is through fish making fishery management closely related to food security. Additionally, in the last 50 years the biomass of fish has decreased by 50%. Therefore, organizations like WWF are looking for solutions to overfishing by targeting the 300 to 500 companies that connect the producers and consumers and control 70 percent of the trade.

WWF helped the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to address fishery sustainability. The MSC works to identify sustainable fisheries and promote sustainable fishing throughout the market. In 2006, Wal-Mart became the first company to make a commitment to source all their fish via the MSC certification by 2011. Although Wal-Mart is still working towards that goal, this commitment started a wave in the seafood industry. Certification became a successful tool for companies to look at their supply chain and see which fisheries may already be qualified for MSC certification and look for improvements fisheries can make to become certified. MSC guides these fisheries and companies through the certification process and provides technical support. They also work on Fishery Improvement Projects that use a stepwise approach towards the MSC certification and partner with local stakeholders.

Carter said that companies benefit from MSC certification as they are recognized for good practices and are given access to new markets with confidences in their sustainability. Furthermore, the Fishery Improvement Projects give a greater presence in the marketplace to the fisheries and within their local government. Through her work, Carter said that she learned the power of market incentives in the improvement of fisheries and the importance of partnerships.

To learn more about WWF’s work with the Marine Stewardship Council, visit the website here: http://worldwildlife.org/threats/overfishing

By Helen Song ’14

Alison Carter

Alison Carter