Climate Change

Know your fish to save the oceans

Hans-Juergen Matern
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Climate Change?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Climate Change is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Climate Change

If fish are going to play a part in our efforts to feed 9 billion hungry, wealthier people by 2050 – let alone the billion people who rely on it today as their primary source of protein – we need to figure out a way of sustainably harvesting our fisheries, and fast.

Two of the biggest problems affecting fish stocks are “bycatch”, which is when certain fish or other species are caught accidentally and often discarded, and “IUU”, which is illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Collectively, these issues contribute significantly to the fact that 75% of Europe’s fish stocks and 25% of the world’s are already overfished.

The answer to overcoming these twin challenges lies in what is paradoxically both a simple and complex concept: traceability. It is simple in that as a universal method for tracing the origin and method of catch, it would enable the global seafood supply chain to identify at a glance whether food is legitimate or sustainable. It is complex because the industry has yet to impose such a scheme that could work on a global scale.

What is holding us back? For one thing, any seamless and transparent traceability system must be globally harmonized, taking into account the 70-plus voluntary certification schemes and eco-labelling systems currently on the market, which often provide differing information and lead to widescale consumer confusion. It must also be based on existing global standards to ensure global interoperability.

Necessity is the mother of invention, however, and progress is now being made towards developing such a sustainability standard for fish. Following the approach of “once certified, accepted everywhere,” and acting on an idea incubated in the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Oceans, the newly created Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative is bringing together a large number of partners from industry, governments and non-governmental organizations in a move to harmonize standards, make it easy for consumers to buy sustainable fish and reduce the cost for smaller producers.

The fightback against IUU and bycatch starts here!

For an interactive trip to the future of our oceans click on the image below:


Author: Hans-Juergen Matern is Vice-President and Head of Corporate Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs at METRO AG; he is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Oceans  


Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Climate ChangeFuture of the Environment
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Climate crisis: February likely the warmest ever recorded, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

Johnny Wood

March 4, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum