Clean Seas Feed Barge
Clean Seas Feed Barge

The Friend of the Sea (FOS) is an independent, not-for-profit organization whose mission is the conservation of the marine habitat.

Friend of the Sea claims to be the leading certification project for products originated from both sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

What it means

The FOS certification follows the FAO guidelines for the Ecolabelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries. These are of a voluntary nature. They are applicable to ecolabelling.

Interesting with the Friend of the Sea Sustainable Aquaculture Criteria are the following factors:

  • no impact on critical habitat (e.g.: mangroves, wetlands, etc);
  • compliance with waste water parameters;
  • reduction of escapes and by-catches to a negligible level;
  • no use of harmful anti-foulants nor growth hormones;
  • compliance with Social Accountability; and
  • gradual reduction of carbon footprint

Approximately 150 aquaculture producers worldwide have requested to be audited according to Friend of the Sea criteriaand circa 100 of them have achieved certification.


What we need to remember is that the FOS is again a standard that represents work in progress.

This organisation has introduced a range of different standards. It covers the whole value-chain. FOS certifies fisheries, fishmeal plants, feed mills and fish farms and fisheries and farms are covered. Recognition has been strongest in Italy but its acceptance and use is growing in Switzerland and Germany, for instance.

  • FOS bases its certification process on the sustainability of the fish stock.

This is in contrast to others that focus on the management of the fishery.

Also interesting is that its certification process is undertaken by independent 3rd parties. The assessment is based on existing stock assessment data.

The FOS claims to cover 10% of global wild fisheries.

Please remember, if you purchase fish with the Friend of the Sea label in your favorite store, you are buying fish that can be caught in the wild (another one is the MSC label) or else is one from a fish farm.

It is the only certification program that certifies, with the same seal of approval, products both farmed and wild-caught.  Friend of the Sea uses Sea Sustainable Aquaculture Criteria to give a producer its seal

Finally, a company may have the ASC label and either the MSC or ASC Label or both.  This may occur if it catches fish in the wild and has an aquaculture operation at the same time.

Generally, it gets it wild catch certified by MSC and/or FOS and the catch from the farm is certified by ASC.

What is your opinion

Of course, what interests us the most is what you think about these labels such as the MSC

  • Do you purchase FOS label fish in your favorite store?
  • What do you look for when purchasing fish?
  • What things would you like to have improved in the FOS label.
  • Are there other labels that you use as criteria for shopping fish?

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