Sustainable Seafood | WWF-Canada
	© Alyssa Bistonath / WWF-Canada

Sustainable Seafood

Better Seafood Choices

The way we capture and cultivate seafood is directly linked to the health of our oceans. As the largest traded food commodity on the planet, we need to ensure the seafood we eat comes from sustainable sources.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 85 percent of the world’s fisheries have already been pushed to their maximum exploitation limit or beyond. Meanwhile, poorly managed fish farms contribute to declines in coastal habitats and freshwater health. 
You can help change this. By choosing wild caught fish that is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and farmed fish approved by the Aqua Stewardship Council (ASC), you support a healthy marine environment for years to come.

Wild-caught seafood

An estimated 90 percent of the world’s biggest fish – including many tunas, billfish and sharks – have been fished out. WWF believes that protecting marine habitats and promoting sustainable fishing methods is important to both people and, of course, to wildlife. We work with consumers, restaurants and industry from ocean to table to ensure our seafood comes from sustainable sources. We also work towards the long-term survival of the interconnected network of underwater species.

That’s why we work with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) , a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry, and NGOs that collaborate to promote science-based initiatives for the long-term health of tuna stocks. WWF also works with retail partners in Canada and around the world to encourage their canned tuna suppliers to actively engage with ISSF to move towards sourcing from sustainable, MSC-certified tuna fisheries.

Shark Photo © Richard Herrmann /

How you can help

When you buy seafood, choose wild-caught seafood with the MSC eco label, and farmed seafood under the ASC label If they are not available, ask for them. If your retailer can‘t provide answers, say that you want to know where your seafood comes from and you want it to be credibly certified.


Saving the ocean starts with buying the right fish 
	© WWF-Canada
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You don’t have to do much to have a big impact on the health of our fish stocks.

Farmed seafood

Set to outpace wild-capture fisheries in the near future, close to half of all the seafood we eat comes from farms. Known as aquaculture, seafood farming is the fastest growing food production system in the world. WWF works with certification bodies including the Aquaculture Stewardship Council to set standards that minimize the negative impacts of production on both the environment and society through reduced use of antibiotics and pesticides; the huge number of fish escapes that spread disease and harm genetic diversity must also be reduced.

State of Canada’s Oceans

Home to a quarter of the world’s coastline, forty percent of Canada’s territory is ocean. We have one of the world’s most valuable fishing industries, and seafood is our second biggest food commodity export. Canada’s fishing industry contributes over $2 billion to our GDP every year and accounts for more than 70,000 jobs. In 2010, Canada exported $3.9 billion worth of fish and seafood products – the five most valuable were lobster, snow/queen crab, Atlantic salmon, shrimp/prawn and herring.

But Canada is also known for the collapse of the Grand Banks ecosystem and Atlantic cod fisheries, marked in history as one of the world’s worst ecological crises.

Atlantic Cod Photo © Gilbert Van Ryckevorsel / WWF-Canada

Healthy oceans means more than just protecting commercially valuable fish stocks. We also need to take responsibility for the entire web of life, from tiny plankton to 100-tonne whales. We have to end harmful fishing practices that destroy habitats (such as corals and sponges) and lead to unintended capture or entanglement of non-target species We also need to have the right rules in place so our fisheries are managed responsibly.

Choosing sustainable seafood is one of the best and easiest ways you can protect our oceans and ensure the wildlife inhabiting them thrives.

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Sustainable Fishing

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What is MSC? What is ASC?

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
is an independent, non-profit organisation set up to address the problem of overfishing. It has set an environmental standard for sustainable fisheries, and seafood that meets this standard carries a distinctive blue MSC label. This label can help you to identify sustainable seafood products sourced from wild fisheries. Find out more Marine Stewardship Council.


The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)
is also an independent, non-profit organisation that has been set up to manage a global set of standards for responsible aquaculture. Aquaculture products that meet these specific standards will carry the ASC label. This label will help you to identify sustainable seafood products sourced from fish or shellfish farms. Find out more about Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

MSC Certified Fisheries in Canada

  • North West Atlantic Canada harpoon swordfish
  • North West Atlantic Canada longline swordfish
  • Eastern Canada offshore scallop fishery
  • Gulf of St. Lawrence northern shrimp trawl fishery Esquiman Channel
  • Scotian shelf snow crab trap
  • Gulf of St. Lawrence northern shrimp
  • Gulf of St Lawrence snow crab trap
  • Canada northern and striped shrimp
  • Canada Scotian Shelf Northern Prawn Trawl
  • British Columbia sockeye salmon
  • Canada Pacific halibut (British Columbia)
  • British Columbia pink salmon
  • Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation (CHMSF) British Columbia albacore tuna North Pacific
  • British Columbia spiny dogfish
  • Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska