World Wide Fund for Nature

Responsible Fisheries Alliance launched- a first for South Africa

Today (2 September 2009), saw stakeholders from across the fishing industry sector shake hands and commit to working together and sharing solutions in the mutual goal of securing the future of seafood and marine ecosystems. WWF South Africa, together with four major fishing industry players, namely I&J, Oceana, Sea Harvest and Viking, launched the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA). This is the first alliance of its kind in the history of South African marine conservation. The Alliance is a bid to achieve the common goal of ensuring that all stakeholders understand and support the implementation of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) management in South Africa’s fisheries.

An EAF seeks to protect and enhance the health of marine ecosystems on which life and human benefits depend. The approach depends on balancing the diverse needs and values of both present and future generations.

“Fishing companies and environmental NGOs are often perceived to share little common ground. But in reality, responsible fishing companies that are committed to a long-term business view have a great deal in common with rational environmental NGOs that are committed to sustainable development goals. It is against this background that the concept of a Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) was borne,” said Dr Samantha Petersen, Manager of WWF’s Sustainable Fisheries Programme, speaking at the launch.

The goals of the Alliance include promoting responsible fisheries practices, influencing policy on fishery governance, skills development to enable the implementation of an Ecosystem Approach and facilitating high quality ecological, socio-economic and governance related research to inform the implementation of an EAF.

The RFA was created on the basis of a strong ecological, market, operational and governance case agreed upon by both the fishing companies and WWF. The many years of good working relations between WWF and the key Alliance partners has already resulted in the development of a number of projects including the development of the responsible fisheries training programme, various bycatch assessments such as seabirds and vulnerable finfish amongst others.

Statements issued by the founding members of the Alliance regarding their involvement in this important step in South Africa’s marine conservation efforts, all highlighted the fact that long-term sustainability from both an ecological and business point of view was a priority.

“Sea Harvest has been in existence for over 45 years; and we intend to fish for many more – for our children’s children. We are proud to be a founding member of the RFA which will become one of the important interventions enhancing responsible and sustainable fishing” said George Bezuidenhout, Managing Director of Sea Harvest.

Similar sentiments were shared by I&J Operations Director, Suleiman Salie, “I&J is committed to continue to be actively involved in promoting sustainable and responsible fishing practices for the long term. Collaborative initiatives such as those that will be championed by the Responsible Fisheries Alliance will undoubtedly enhance our efforts to achieve this goal.”

On behalf of Viking, Director, Tim Reddell, said “Viking is proud to be a founder member of the RFA; it highlights Viking’s commitment towards ensuring that future generations will also be able to experience the pleasures and biodiversity that the world’s oceans have to offer”.

Francois Kuttel, CEO Oceana Group Limited, added that “Environmental sustainability is one of the 3 pillars of the Oceana Group’s corporate sustainability framework. Oceana is committed to a policy of fair dealing and integrity in the conduct of its business. The sustainable utilization of marine resources, and support for the responsible management of these resources, is fundamental to this commitment”.

The launch of the RFA also received public support from Dr Valli Moosa, former Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and former President of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Dr Moosa said that the formation of this Alliance was significant because for the first time a forum has been created in which civil society and the private sector can effectively and strategically engage on the mutual objective of a sustainable fishing industry.

“The RFA will facilitate the support of the regulatory framework by sharing the responsibility of the wise management of our oceans and providing additional resources to furthering the World Summit for Sustainable Development Goal of implementing an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management by 2012”, said Dr Moosa.

Editor’s Notes:

Further background and rationale for the Responsible Fisheries Alliance:

The Ecological Case

Healthier marine ecosystems will continue to provide more ecological, social and economic services to society for longer. Ultimately, environmental NGOs and responsible fishing companies should be working together to secure the health of the ecosystems which underpin the business purpose of both sectors.

The Market Case

The recent increase in consumer awareness is leading to a higher demand for sustainable products and information, and it would be accurate to say that the present demand for sustainable, traceable seafood outstrips the supply. The Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) will assist participating fisheries to respond proactively to the growing needs of informed consumers and a more demanding seafood market.

The Governance Case

The RFA will promote self governance through dynamic dialogue, capacity development and the promotion of market-based incentives e.g. eco-labeling or certification. It will also allow for the development of joint advocacy with government and other stakeholders on issues that may undermine responsible fishing.

The Operational and Financial Case

The RFA will facilitate the pooling of limited resources, increase efficiency and allow for a more coordinated and strategic response e.g. research to meet conditions of fishery certification bodies such as the Marine Stewardship Council. It will also allow for the sharing of complementary skills and competencies of the organizations belonging to the RFA and provides a highly responsive mechanism for the development and implementation of priority projects.

The Responsible Fisheries Charter

Members pledge to advance responsible fishing practices through:

1. Participating in the forum and openly sharing knowledge and experiences

2. Developing human capacity and skills on responsible fishing practices

3. Participating in research

4. Implementing agreed research outcomes

5. Complying with permit conditions

6. Engaging in dialogue with consumers and seafood buyers on the importance of responsible fishing practices

And acknowledge the importance of:

1. The long-term benefit of responsible fishing

2. An Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management

3. Transparency of operations e.g. using third-party observers

4. Traceability of products

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About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

See for information on the organisation’s activities in South Africa.

WWF stands for the World Wide Fund for Nature. The organization prefers to be referred to just by the acronym.

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For interviews and comment contact:

Dr Samantha Petersen: Manager: Sustainable Fisheries Programme

+27 21 425 3400 Email:
Sindiswa Nobula: Communications Coordinator: WWF Sanlam Living Waters Partnership

+27 21 888 2800 +27 21 888 2844 Email:

Issued by William Smook: Meropa Communications

+27 21 683-6464 +27 83-357-2837 Email: