Why We’re Friends with Friend of the Sea.Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – Medical Herbalist
November 1, 2016
For those concerned, like Botanica, with sustainable fishing practices and agriculture techniques, Friend of the Sea (FOTS) Certification is a name to remember. Initially founded as a project under the NGO, Earth Island Institute, FOTS was launched in 2006 by director Paolo Bray, the man behind the www.savedolphins.eii.org and www.earthisland.org – projects focused on reducing dolphin mortality within the tuna fishing industry.
The larger goals of FOTS are: the environmental protection and sustainability within the marine life ecosystems; the prevention of habitat destruction; and preservation of the entire food chain from tiny micro organisms to larger fish species.
It’s the only certificate and logo that covers both wild and farmed seafood. To date there are over 185 companies in Europe, 42 in Asia, 29 in South America, 25 in Africa, 27 in North America and 12 in Oceania which have FOTS certification for products including tuna, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, salmon, trout, cod, shrimp, prawns, mussels, scallops and clams.
Friend of the Sea is a desirable industry certification for both fisheries and aquaculture (farm raised seafood companies). It’s a starting place of accountability for sustainable fishing practices and to reduce the impact on a fragile ecosystem.
Criteria for FOTS certification standards involve economic, social and environmental considerations and include:
- According to Greenpeace assessments, FOTS certification is only issued AFTER required changes for compliance have been implemented.
- Steps to prevent overexploitation of fish populations – for example, products from certain species of marine life that are overexploited, recovering or depleted stocks (e.g. European eel and bluefin tuna) will not be certified.
- Endangered Species listed in the IUCN Red List cannot be caught.
- Fishing procedures are based on reducing environmental impact – FOTS does not allow fishing techniques that impact the seabed, such as trawling, which is known to damage coral reefs.
- Compliance with the law is supported through on site audit: some considerations include: minimum size of a catch, mesh size, total allowable fishing opportunities and catch limits.
- Considerations from a small business perspective, many fishing dependent communities and artisanal fisheries work on small scale yet depend upon marine life for their livelihood. FOTS certification offers both an affordable model and easy to follow assessment processes for small scale companies and producers.
Greenpeace has issued additional Criteria for Sustainable Fisheries; in 2009 FOTS has adapted many recommendations including:
- Environmental impact assessment including consideration for “critical” habitat.
- Additional fishing procedures which reduce the impact on marine life and environment.
- Techniques to reduce escapes, traceability and animal welfare.
- Requirements for feed management, no GMO products, no growth hormone or anti fouling toxic paints.
- Waste management and reduction of the use of chemicals, carbon footprint management.
- Avoidance of operations in areas where illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing is a huge problem and large occurrence.
As of 2009, FOTS requires third party auditing for assessments and assurance of compliance, the third party auditing is conducted through RINA Services, an Italian independent audit body.
One only needs to go for an early morning walk on an ocean beach to recognise the impact that pollution has on our ocean waters. Certainly more action can be taken to alleviate pollution, minimize disposal of plastics in the ocean and prevent chemical toxins from being deposited in water affecting the endocrine systems of smaller animals and aquatic life. All steps towards reducing the burden we place on mother earth are critical.
The ways in which seafood is harvested or farmed are closely linked to the health of our oceans. Seafood is one of the largest food commodities in the world and sustainable farming practices both in the aquaculture at sea are important to ensure that food is available in the future with minimal negative impact on the surrounding natural habitat.
There is only one earth, it’s essential to have more industry practices to reduce pollution, prevent the increase of endangered species, sustain our waters and foster marine life within. That is why all Botanica related fish oil products are FOTS Certified. We believe that new initiatives such as FOTS, is one step towards sustaining life better on this planet.