Successful partnership: Austria’s retailer, SPAR, is leading in sustainable fish products!

In 2011 WWF-Austria and SPAR Austria started an ambitious co-operation. Today there are about 400 responsibly sourced fish and seafood products on the shelves and at fresh fish counters at SPAR – that’s more than 95% of the product range.

SPAR Austria is one of the biggest food retailers in the country. Aware of its responsibilities, in 2009 the company began to follow a sustainable purchasing policy for fish. In 2011 this was then stepped up through co-operation with WWF-Austria. The ambitious aim: the transition of the entire fish product range to products of sustainable fishing and production practices. The result of the collaboration between SPAR Austria and WWF-Austria is clear to see! In 2012 WWF-Austria could only make a purchasing recommendation for 62% of stocked fish based on sustainability: in 2013 this increased to 85% and in 2014 even 95%. Today, at SPAR’s fish counters and SPAR’s own brand, there is absolutely no more fish that is facing risk of extinction or caught by unregistered fleets. This example of a successful collaboration shows that companies are prepared to answer customer wishes for more sustainability with a suitable product range. WWF can help with this by providing expertise and international experience.

100% sustainable tuna

A project especially worth a mention is the introduction of 100% sustainable SPAR canned tuna. From the species of tuna to fishing area and fleet, down to the canning factory, the entire production chain of the new canned tuna is sustainable according to the MSC certification. The tuna processed here, skipjack tuna, reproduces easily. So the stock can replenish itself quickly and is one of the least endangered species of tuna in the world. SPAR skipjack is caught in the Western Pacific, in the waters of the eight Pacific Island States of Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. Fish stocks in this area are the most sustainable in the world. Even the fishing methods are: the fish, which swim wild in huge shoals of about 50,000, are caught using purse-seine nets. The net is laid out around the shoal in a ring shape and closed at the bottom like a bag. As no Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) are used, accidental bycatch of sharks, dolphins, turtles, birds or young tuna mostly doesn’t happen and effects on the ecosystem are minimal.

100% traceable and good for developing countries

So that the consumer can trace back the production process, the innovative ‘Track + Trace’ online system has been developed. Anyone who is interested can find information online about where, by which boat, which captain, when and by which fishing method the SPAR tuna was caught – a guarantee that the product is really 100% sustainable. SPAR tuna is processed directly at a local canning factory in Papua New Guinea, where strict social, ecological and hygiene standards are adhered to. This isn’t just important for quality but also supports the local community through job creation.

  • 2012 62%
  • 2013 85%
  • 2014 95%
Share of sustainable seafood products in SPAR Austria supermarkets.
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