(Photo: GrimsbyT/Wikimedia)

Labels point the way, but…

In the abundance of products on the market, it is difficult for critical consumers—and also for the trade—to find a product that meets ones proper demand for environmental protection, animal welfare, and fair trade on their own.

Labels (quality seals) offer orientation. They promise that a certain concern is fulfilled. And they build up a considerable control apparatus for this purpose. This is one of the reasons why there will never be a label that fulfils all conceivable demands—the effort would be unaffordable, quite apart from the fact that different customer segments have different demands.

When it comes to fish, three areas are central from fair-fish's point of view:

  • Animal welfare: whether fish had a decent life and an easy death;
  • Environment: whether the environment was protected when the fish were harvested;
  • Fair trade: whether producers were treated and paid fairly.

No existing fish label covers all three areas; all of them so far focus mainly on environmental issues. Labels are a good first step. For those with higher expectations, the fish test is an in-depth decision-making aid.



There is movement

In aquaculture, "Friend of the Sea" (FOS), with the support of fair-fish, has just extended its standard to include animal welfare criteria, and "ASC" will soon follow.

In the fisheries sector, a consortium under the leadership of fair-fish is about to launch a four-year research project for FOS to develop criteria for a gentler catch of aquatic animals; here, too, other labels are likely to follow in the future.

Only with regard to fair trade in fish, hardly anything is happening yet.


Critical information on individual fish labels can be found here (in German)—and here specifically for aquaculture, using farmed salmon as an example.