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Woolworths’ sustainable seafood journey

Woolworths has become the first South African retailer to sign the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative’s (SASSI) Retail Charter. 

Recognising the vital role retailers can play in the worldwide drive to conserve precious seafood resources, Woolworths has formulated and is implementing a Sustainable Seafood policy. It has also just become the first South African retailer to sign the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative’s (SASSI) Retail Charter.

“Along with protecting the environment, fostering and preserving biodiversity is a core directive of our Good business journey,” explains Woolworths Head of Foods, Julian Novak. “There are very real global environmental concerns about seafood, especially in regard to over-fishing and the environmental impact of fisheries – in particular high bycatch of non-target species and damage or destruction of habitats. As a responsible corporate citizen we have an ethical responsibility to preserve our natural resources. In addition, as a major role player in the South African seafood industry, we believe Woolworths can drive positive change by supporting sustainable seafood.”

The process is facilitated by WWF, the conservation organisation, who will assist the retailer in setting up and meeting the objectives of the policy, which marks a significant milestone on Woolworths Good business journey. Woolworths is currently working closely with its dedicated suppliers and WWF in implementing its Sustainable Seafood policy and will also help consumers understand the sustainability status of species in terms of the green-orange-red listings promulgated by SASSI so that they can make informed choices.

Says Jaco Barendse, Technical Advisor of SASSI, “We are very pleased to welcome Woolworths as the first South African retailer to sign on to the SASSI Seafood Charter for Retailers. For a leading retailer to make such a firm commitment to move its seafood range towards sustainability bodes well for the future world’s seafood stocks. Woolworths’s participation in the Charter will make an important contribution to our goals of shifting consumer demand away from over-exploited species to more sustainable options and creating awareness of vital marine conservation issues. ”

About SASSI

SASSI was initiated in November 2004 in order to inform and educate all participants in the seafood trade, from wholesalers to restaurateurs through to seafood lovers.

The initiative distils information on the status of local seafood species into one of three colour categories, much like a traffic light. Species marked with a green fish can generally be eaten with a clear conscience because their population numbers are healthy. Orange means they’re legal to sell, but if you have a choice you should opt for one of the “green” species. Species marked in red are illegal to buy or sell in South Africa.

The initiative is funded through The Green Trust, a partnership between WWF and Nedbank. 

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