I&J signs landmark agreement with WWF-SASSI

I&J-WWFI&J, one of SA’s leading South African fishing companies, has further demonstrated its commitment to the environment by signing a landmark participation agreement with the WWF-SA Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI).

I&J’s participation agreement represents a formal commitment to sustainable seafood by the company to work with WWF-SASSI towards the goal of ensuring that, by December 2015, I&J will only sell seafood products that are:

  • Certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for wild capture species (the world’s leading eco-label for wild caught seafood) or;
  • Certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) for species originating from aquaculture operations (the newly launched eco-label for responsible aquaculture production) or;
  • Green-listed by WWF-SASSI; or
  • The subject of a time-bound fishery improvement project or bycatch management plan as approved by WWF-SA.

In making this public announcement, I&J says it is the first fishing company in South Africa to make such a strong commitment to sustainable seafood.

In what WWF-SA believes to be an industry leading initiative, the scope of the commitment extends beyond the seafood species that I&J procure to incorporate all of the species from their fishing operations as well. As an active participant in the WWF-SASSI Retailer / Supplier Participation Scheme, the company will actively engage with its own fishing operations and suppliers to make this vision a reality.

“These sustainability goals are a clear statement of intent by I&J to drive positive change by formalising the company’s commitment to sustainable fishing practices and meeting hard and fast targets,“ says Ronald Fasol (left), CEO of I&J, who, together with WWF-SA CEO Dr Morné du Plessis (right), signed the agreement.

Du Plessis says, “This is a leading and positive step in achieving sustainability in the seafood industry. WWF believes that corporate engagement is key to transforming markets and for adopting and promoting sector-wide shifts to sustainable development and corporate best practice. The transformational nature of this partnership is highlighted by the commitments to sustainable seafood that I&J has made. We congratulate I&J for leading the way in setting these tangible conservation goals for the fishing sector.”

I&J is a major stakeholder in the South African fishing industry. The company is the largest right-holder in the commercially important hake fisheries and trades in both whole fish and value added seafood products. I&J played an integral part in the MSC certification of the South African hake trawl industry.

Furthermore, since 2004, I&J has held an MSC Chain-of-Custody certification resulting in the MSC ‘eco label’ appearing on I&J’s South African trawl hake products. This gives consumers an on-product assurance that these products comply with the MSC’s principles for sustainable seafood production.

“I&J has an Important contribution to make towards the sustainable management of fisheries, not only in South Africa, but in every country where we do business,” said Fasol.

While the WWF-SASSI agreement captures I&J’s commitment to sustainable fishing and the trade in sustainable seafood products, the company also has an internal Sustainable Seafood Policy (SSP) that guides its staff in the procurement and sale of seafood products. The SSP was developed in consultation with WWF-SASSI and is available for scrutiny at www.ij.co.za It sets out clear guidelines with respect to product quality, safety, traceability, labelling and the education and training of I&J staff.

The WWF-SASSI Participation Scheme is an initiative that engages key role players in the seafood supply chain with the aim of transforming the landscape of the seafood industry in South Africa. The Scheme has been running since 2008 and currently engages with a number of South African retailers and suppliers.