Species and location
The name, location and nationality describes the target species (or multispecies), the area where fishing or farmed production occurs, and in the case of wild fish, the country that controls those fishing grounds (or in the case of high seas fisheries, the fishing vessel’s flag country). For those seeking more information, by clicking in this box you can visit the relevant FishSource profile, available for most sources, to discover further information about that fishery or farmed fish and shellfish.
This information is self-reported by the participating companies to the ODP. It is based on source information reported to them by their suppliers, and has not necessarily been verified by third-party traceability systems. An ODP profile is intended to cover the main seafood species sourced by companies during the reporting period and may not cover all species sourced. Some companies may choose to disclose a particular segment such as fresh and frozen own-brand product only. In some cases, seafood products sold in small volumes or sourced as test products only may not be included in a profile.
The production method identifies whether the species is farmed or wild-caught and the fishing method used. The fishing gear classifications used in the ODP are based on the International Standard Statistical Classification of Fishing Gear (ISSCFG).
Click here to access the complete FAO description of gear types.
Gear categories used in the ODP profiles will continue to evolve as new businesses sourcing from different fisheries enter the ODP. The following production methods currently feature:
Also known as ‘pelagic trawls’, midwater trawls are a type of towed gear that is operated in the mid-water column. They are used to target shoals of pelagic fish such as seabass, mackerel and herring. Midwater trawls include midwater otter trawls and midwater pair trawls.
A type of towed gear that operates in direct contact with the sea bed. Bottom trawls are large, cone-shaped nets with a wide mouth held open by trawl doors or otter boards, tapering to a narrow ‘cod-end’ where the catch is gathered. Selectivity in trawl nets can be determined by mesh size and shape. Bottom trawls include beam trawls, bottom otter trawls and bottom pair trawls. Bottom trawls may cause significant but localized damage to the sea bed. Semi-pelagic trawls, which target demersal species and may sometimes contact the seabed, are also included here.
A type of towed gear used to capture shellfish that is operated in direct contact with the sea bed. Dredges consist of a heavy chain bag attached to a bar, which scrapes the sea bed disturbing shellfish, which are then collected in the chain bag. Dredges may cause significant but localized damage to the sea bed. Dredges include mechanical and hydraulic boat dredges and lighter hand dredges.
A circular net used to capture large shoals of fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel. The gear is characterized by a purse line that draws the bottom of the net closed, surrounding and trapping the target shoal.
Associated purse seine
Purse seine fisheries may be categorised as 'unassociated' or 'associated'. Associated purse seine refers to fisheries where the purse seine net is set around floating objects or fish aggregating devices (FADs).
FAD-free (unassociated) purse seine
Purse seine fisheries may be categorised as 'unassociated' or 'associated'. Purse seine gear that is set around free-swimming schools of fish is known as FAD-free (unassociated) purse seine.
A long, vertical surrounding net that is hauled by ropes at either end of the net. Seine nets may be operated by boats (boat seines such as the Danish seine) or from shore (beach seines).
Horizontal nets used to catch small pelagic fish and squid. Lift nets are submerged near the water surface and hauled out of the water mechanically or by hand.
Gillnets and entangling nets
Gillnets hang vertically in the water column with the aid of a weighted footrope and floats attached to a headrope. They may be hung at different depths in the water column and can be anchored to the sea bed or drifting. Catch selectivity is determined by mesh size and net depth, with target species becoming entangled by their gills when they swim through the net.
Hook and line
Hook and line is a non-specific gear type where the fish is caught on baited hooks attached to a line. Hook and line gears may be manually or mechanically operated and range from a single line to many lines with many hooks. Hook and line gears are operated at a range of depths and are used to capture a variety of species.
Anchored or drifting lines are suspended in the water column with the aid of floats and weights. A main line is attached to smaller lines with many baited hooks attached. Longlines may be used as pelagic or bottom gear. Hook and bait types will also vary depending on target species.
Handlines and pole-lines
A single pole and line operated by individual fishers that is used to catch tuna and similar large pelagic fish one by one. Bait may be thrown into the water to attract fish to the surface. Handlines and pole-lines are a highly selective gear type, resulting in very low bycatch. They may be mechanized or hand operated.
Rake / hand gathered / hand netted
Rakes, hand netting and hand gathering methods are used to collect shellfish and crustaceans directly from the seabed or coastal areas. Species such as scallops, abalone and lobsters may be individually collected by divers by hand, whilst some shellfish can be collected from intertidal areas using a spade or rake. This is considered a low impact fishing method. Other gear types covered by this category include hand nets including push nets, a type of scoop that is pushed along the sea bed and is typically used to catch shrimp, and cast nets, a circular net that is thrown flat onto the water surface and is used to catch fish and shrimp near the surface.
Pots and traps
Pots and traps comprise baited cages or baskets, with one or more openings, into which animals are lured. They are typically used to target crustaceans, as well as fish and other species such as squid and octopus. Connected by a line, they are dropped onto the sea bed and are used at a range of depths. The gear is often hauled up by hand unless set at a greater depth. Unwanted catch can usually be released alive, making pots and traps a highly selective static gear type.
Gear not known
Used to describe a fishery where there is a lack of information regarding the types of gear operated by the fishers.
Steel-pointed gear that is either shot by a gun or thrown by hand at the target species and is connected to a line for retrieval. Harpoons are operated in surface waters and are used to catch fish one-by-one.
This category includes less commonly used gear types such as pumps, a type of gear that uses suction to draw masses of squid or small fish on board from surface-waters.
Fish farming, known as aquaculture, produces fish and shellfish in a controlled environment. Aquaculture production systems may be extensive, semi-intensive, or intensive, and utilize a range of production methods including open nets, ponds, suspension culture, and recirculating systems.
Certification and improvement status
Where a source is referred to as ‘Certified’, this means it has achieved certification (or recertification) to a recognized voluntary sustainability standard. Note that certified sources are not necessarily certified to a Chain of Custody standard (which offers a third-party check on traceability).
At present, we only recognize fishery certifications that have met the benchmark of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative. These are:
- Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
- Iceland Responsible Fisheries Management (IRFM)
- Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management (Alaska RFM)
- Audubon Gulf United (G.U.L.F.) for Lasting Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM)
For farmed fish and shellfish, we recognize certification to these schemes:
- Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)
- BIM Certified Quality Aquaculture (CQA) scheme
- Global GAP
- Global Aquaculture Alliance's (GAA) Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) - 2-star to 4-star*
*1-star BAP certification covers the processing plant only and is not recognized for the ODP's purposes.
Some Product from Certified Fisheries:
This category indicates that some but not all fishery assessment units or vessels involved in the fishery are certified. Where further information on the certified fishery units is required please see the FishSource profile or relevant public certification report.
FIP (Fishery Improvement Project) fisheries are those currently participating in an improvement project. Where a fishery is indicated as belonging to a FIP, there is a structured program in place for making improvements that meets the guidelines of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions.
Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP)s are defined by FishSource as “an alliance of producers, processors, suppliers, and buyers working together to address sustainability issues in a fish farming zone via better management, policies, and/or data collection and reporting.” Further information about an AIP can usually be found on FishSource or the AIP Directory.
Some Product from FIP Fisheries:
This category indicates that some but not all fishery assessment units or vessels involved in the fishery are involved in a FIP. Where further information is required please see FishSource or FisheryProgress.org.
Prospective FIP fisheries are those that are engaged in the development of an improvement project that is expected to complete its launch within one year. Prospective FIPs are classed as those in Stages 0 (FIP identification), 1 (FIP development) and 2 (FIP launch). More information about Prospective FIPs and FIP stages can be found at FisheryProgress.org.
Not Certified or in a FIP/AIP:
This category includes any fishery or farmed source that is not currently certified or in an improvement project, including fisheries and farmed sources that are currently undergoing full assessment, have been suspended or withdrawn from a certification programme, or have previously been involved in an improvement project.
Environmental ratings for wild-caught and farmed seafood are reported from:
- SFP’s FishSource scores
- Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program
- Ocean Wise
- Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide
- NOAA Fisheries Fish Stock Sustainability Index (FSSI).
The ratings provided by these schemes are outlined below and are determined using different methodologies.
Well Managed: All FishSource scores ≥ 8. Any fishery that is certified to a recognized sustainability standard is automatically considered well managed, regardless of FishSource scores.
Managed: All FishSource scores ≥ 6.
Needs improvement: At least one FishSource score is less than 6.
Seafood Watch Recommendations
- Best Choice: “Buy first, they’re well managed and caught or farmed in ways that cause little harm to habitats or other wildlife.”
- Good Alternative: “Buy, but be aware there are concerns with how they’re caught or farmed.”
- Eco-Certification Recommended: fisheries that are certified to a standard that is considered equivalent to at least a Seafood Watch 'Good Alternative' recommendation. This includes all wild-caught seafood certified by MSC.
- Avoid: “Don’t buy, they’re overfished or caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment.”
- Recommended: "Sustainable (Ocean Wise)"
- Not recommended: "Unsustainable"
Good Fish Guide
- Best choice 1: “Indicates the most sustainably caught or farmed fish.”
- Best choice 2: “Indicates sustainably caught or responsibly farmed fish.”
- Think 3: “Indicates fish which are an OK choice, but require some improvements.”
- Think 4: “Indicates fish which are some way from being sustainably caught or farmed and require significant improvements. We recommend that you seek alternatives where you can.”
- Improver 5: "Indicates fish which have been assessed and rated 5 (red) due to significant environmental concerns yet credible efforts to improve the fishery or farming system have been agreed through a Fisheries or Aquaculture Improvement Project – a FIP or an AIP - and work is underway. Such projects are normally publicly listed at www.fisheryprogress.org. MCS wants to encourage environmental improvements in fisheries and fish farms, and so does not recommend avoiding these fish, as we normally do for seafood rated 5 (red rated), thus providing, we hope, an incentive for businesses to support credible improvement projects."
- Avoid 5: “Indicates fish from the most unsustainable fisheries or farming systems. We recommend avoiding these fish (Or encourage businesses to establish a credible improvement project).”
Fish Stock Sustainability Index (FSSI)
- 4 out of 4: The fishery is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring and the stock biomass is at or above 80% of the biomass that produces maximum sustainable yield.
- 3 out of 4: The fishery is not overfished but overfishing is occurring and the stock biomass is at or above 80% of the biomass that produces maximum sustainable yield, or, the fishery is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring but the stock biomass is not at or above 80% of the biomass that produces maximum sustainable yield.
- 2.5 out of 4: The fishery is not overfished and the stock biomass is at or above 80% of the biomass that produces maximum sustainable yield but it is unknown whether overfishing is occurring.
- 2 out of 4: The stock status of the fishery is known but it is either overfished or overfishing is occurring.
- 1.5 out of 4: Either the overfishing status is known and is not occurring, or the overfished status is known and is not occurring.
- 1 out of 4: The fishery is overfished and overfishing is occurring.
- 0.5 out of 4: The fishery is either overfished or overfishing is occurring.
- 0 out of 4: The fishery stock status is unknown.
Notes on the environmental impact of each fishery or farmed source are provided, based on examining relevant information regarding the location and production method. This information is derived from SFP’s online resource, FishSource and other public sources. By clicking on the name and location you can visit the relevant FishSource page for a more in-depth analysis and recommendations on how the supply chain can support improvements.
For wild-caught seafood we include information on environmental impacts on:
Protected, Endangered and Threatened species such as some marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles are sometimes affected by fishing activities, with impacts varying in likelihood and severity by locality and gear type. Threats to PET species from fishing include direct risks like being caught or entangled in fishing gear and indirect risks like fishing impacts on food availability. A range of management and mitigation measures are employed including fishing area closures and gear modifications such as turtle excluder devices.
Bycatch is regarded as the unwanted catch of non-target species and includes retained non-target catch and discards. Levels of bycatch differ by fishing gear type. For example, pots and traps are a highly selective gear type that usually allow any unwanted catch to be released alive while bottom trawls and gillnets are significantly less selective.
Benthic impacts are caused by interactions between the fishing gear and the sea bed and vary by gear type. In general, towed benthic gear such as bottom trawls and dredges, are perceived to have the greatest impact on the sea bed. By comparison, pelagic gears that operate in the water column such as midwater trawls or longlines may only occasionally interact with benthic habitats. The habitat type will also influence the extent and severity of impacts on the sea bed. For example, bottom towed gear will alter but not destroy soft, muddy or sandy seabed habitats. Management and mitigation measures include use of vessel tracking systems and the closure of areas containing sensitive or vulnerable habitat to damaging gear types.
The general notes provide information on wider marine ecosystem impacts related to the fishery and other important points related to the environmental assessment of the fishery.
For farmed seafood we include information on environmental impacts on:
Marine inputs for feed
Most farmed fish require inputs of fish feed during production. The ingredients that make up fish feed include fishmeal and fish oil from marine sources, including whole fish and byproducts (trimmings). The environmental sustainability of fisheries used to source fish feed varies, with some inputs sourced from certified fisheries and traceable back to source.
Impacts on wild species
In addition to relying on wild fish population for feed inputs, the production of farmed fish and shellfish sometimes depends on inputs of eggs or juveniles from wild stocks. Farms can also pose risks to wild species including the spread of disease, pathogens and parasites. Escapes of farmed fish also represent a concern due to competition with wild stocks and the risk of interbreeding with wild populations. Breeding between wild and farmed fish may result in negative impacts upon the genetic makeup of the wild population. Wildlife and predator mortalities around farm sites can also present a problem.
Some fish farming methods are associated with impacts on the surrounding water quality from effluent (nutrient loading) and chemical inputs such as antibiotics and pesticides. Impacts may occur at an individual farm level and at a cumulative multi-farm level in aquaculture zones.
The general notes provide information on the adoption of zonal management principles to regulate and manage farmed fish and shellfish operations in the production area.