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Towards 100% responsible seafood: a conversation with GSSI

In 2020, Iberostar became partners with the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative (GSSI). Using the GSSI benchmark helped us determine what certifications were or were not acceptable to consider responsible.

For Iberostar, the responsible consumption of seafood means the intersection of prioritizing environmental sustainability, livelihoods and safe working practices, and the economic viability of fisheries – environment, people, and economy.  Amidst the uncertainty of 2020, we were still able to source 41.1% of our global seafood from responsible sources. This was just below our target of sourcing 45% from responsible sources by 2020. We were able to do so thanks to data collection and an incredible collaboration by our purchasing team, food and beverage teams and providers.


32% of this seafood was certified by a certification benchmarked by GSSI, while 5% was rated green or yellow by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and 4% came from a Fishery Improvement Project.


Let’s delve into the role that the GSSI benchmarking tool had in helping us reach this goal with Herman Wisse, Executive Director at GSSI, and Adriana Sanchez, Responsible Seafood Strategy Director at Iberostar.


1. Why was the GBT developed?

Herman: In 2013, GSSI started with a simple idea: to develop a benchmark that could be used worldwide to provide clarity and confidence in certified seafood. As seafood production increased to meet rising global demand, certification programs were set up around the world to address concerns about the impact of seafood production on the environment. But there was confusion on how to determine which certification programs were credible.  The GSSI Global Benchmark Tool resolves this confusion: nine certification programs have passed the benchmark and are now recognized as credible by GSSI.


2. What are some easily digestible standards by which GSSI is considering a certification as responsible?

Adriana: Internationally accepted reference documents, all from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), are the foundation of the GSSI Global Benchmark Tool: the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the FAO Ecolabelling Guidelines and the FAO Technical Guidelines for Aquaculture Certification. The GSSI recognized seafood certifications programs are evaluated against 186 components based on these documents. First of all, the components assess whether the programs have sound governance and management.  Secondly, the standards must meet the required level of environmental sustainability, which include using the best scientific evidence available, protecting habitats and ecosystems, and preventing adverse effects on endangered species.


“I do believe that all of the seafood that we eat can be sustainable, and that we can get to a way of managing and living with our natural environment in a way that can produce healthy and bountiful seafood for many generations to come.”


Herman Wisse, Executive Director at GSSI



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