National Seafood Month is a time to reflect on the amazing health benefits of seafood, try new amazing seafood dishes and support local restaurants and their seafood offerings. We want to celebrate National Seafood Month by highlighting some important work that we do, along with partnering organizations, to ensure our clients eat responsibly sourced seafood at any Iberostar hotel or resort.
Our seafood program began in 2018 by partnering with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) in certifying key restaurants in our hotels under their Chain of Custody standard and offering MSC and ASC certified seafood. We became the first hotel chain in Southern Europe, the Dominican Republic and Mexico to be MSC/ASC Chain of Custody Certified after we certified seven restaurants in 2019. Our commitment in 2020 continued as we certified seven more restaurants, bringing our total to 14.
Our partnership with FishWise and the World Wildlife Fund US (WWF-US) in 2019 allowed us to provide training to our staff and start collecting basic Key Data Elements (KDEs) to better understand our sourcing. The complex nature of seafood supply chains and Iberostar’s bold commitment to our ocean’s health opened the opportunity to employ a Responsible Seafood Strategy Director, and by November 1, 2019, we brought on Adriana Sanchez to join our team.
Early this year, on World Oceans Day, we launched our seafood strategy and commitment to sourcing 100% responsible seafood by 2025. We also announced our partnership with the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) to help us in this journey and provide us with the ability to expand the use of eco-certifications in our seafood procurement. Additionally, partnering with the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) has also allowed us to deepen our understanding and commitment towards data collection and ensuring the traceability of our products.
In the midst of all this progress, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and we were called to rethink our seafood commitments. It became clear that despite the setback, this was an opportunity for our teams to turn this crisis into an opportunity to build back better and find solutions that were cost-effective and efficient for our purchasing processes.
As our hotels slowly reopen, our team has been key in balancing costs and data collection with eco-certifications and finding yellow and green rated products from improvement projects. These working relationships are skillfully managed by our procurement team and built on years of experience and business relationships with our suppliers. Our executive leadership, our purchasing team, our chefs and in-country suppliers are the real stars of this journey. It is because of their efforts and commitment to excellence that we are steadily reaching our goal of reaching 45% responsible seafood by 2020.
This National Seafood Month, despite the adversity and the challenges we have all faced, we would like to take a moment and celebrate Iberostar’s amazing chefs, who have reinvented our menus and seafood offerings with an eye towards sustainability. We want to celebrate Iberostar’s procurement teams in the Americas and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) for managing the vendor relationships with such empathy and grace. Last, but not least, we want to celebrate our vendors who support our commitments towards seafood sustainability and have trusted us in this process. Our vendors continue to help us collect data so we can better serve our customers and have clarity on what the future of responsible seafood consumption in our hotels is.