We all have a responsibility in how we expend the finite resources this planet yields us. Thus, we must think about sustainability when it especially when it comes to fishing. ‘Gulf Wild’ was established as an answer to this need. With an overall mission of seafood sustainability and fishery conservation, the organization is providing support to U.S. fishermen who operate in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf Wild system is engineered by professional fishermen to provide a traceability system that lets consumers track the fish they buy and eat – from the sea to their own kitchens. In this system, every fish caught is given a scannable QR code and a traceable identification number. Consumers can then visit the Gulf Wild website to check the detailed credentials of the fish they bought. Details include who caught the fish, where they caught it, from what vessel the fish was loaded, and many more factors regarding the fish and its travels until landing at its final destination whether that be a restaurant, fish market, or the consumers own home.
A Unique Approach to Sustainable Fishing
Gulf Wild’s mission is to set the standard for genuine, traceable, and responsibly caught fish. Over the years, this non-profit organization has inspired positive and industry-wide change towards the conservation of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.
What sets its system apart from any other seafood brand is its ability to provide real-time traceability. It can trace back to the original fishermen, so consumers are assured of the authenticity of every wild fish caught and harvested from the gulf.
When a consumer buys fish tagged by the system, they’d be able to check every detail about the seafood on the Gulf Wild website. Thus, assuring people that they are only buying seafood that is caught and sourced responsibly.
Ensuring Sustainability, The Gulf Wild’s Way
As a conservation-focused organization, Gulf Wild and its TransparenSea program largely contribute to the preservation and long-term viability of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. And to ensure the success of this sustainability system, a catch-share program was created. This is a resource management approach that offers compelling incentives to all participants in support of harvesting fish in a responsible way.
The catch-share program has shown that likelihood of fishery depletion and by-catch has been significantly reduced. The program also reduced high-grading and discards. In addition, the incentives have increased the fishermen’s willingness to comply with catch limits.
There is also strict “Conservation Covenants” among Gulf Wild fishermen. This covenant ensures that all participants work toward a maximized retention fishery. That means harvesting unwanted fish and high grading is reduced. All Gulf Wild fishermen allow electronic monitoring programs and the implementation of gear technologies to help protect fisheries and marine life.
In addition to all the above mentioned, Gulf Wild also ensures that purveyors and distributors are registered with the TransparenSea System. They are also made to sign licensing agreements that require them to adhere to the Gulf Wild conservation standards. They are also required to submit to random audit testing to ensure that everyone follows all the standards set by the organization.
The Gulf Wild Commitment to Conservation
Gulf Wild is always committed to leadership. Our conservation efforts include fishery stewardship, adding new species, improvements of reef fish fisheries, improving accountability and data collection, keeping traceability standards updated, meeting stock rebuilding timelines, and reducing discards.
The program has two tiers – Base Accountability and Above and Beyond Accountability. The former means the bare minimum required for a productive and healthy future for the Gulf. The latter means raising the bar for sustainability in fishery practices.
There is a Board of Directors who are responsible for guiding and overseeing the Conservation Covenants. This ensures that the organization and everyone in it stay true to the mission of fishery conservation and seafood sustainability.
The Gulf Wild Benefits for Seafood Buyers
Aside from ensuring that everyone will be able to buy and eat fish for a long time, Gulf Wild offers great benefits to buyers. Whether you are a retail consumer, wholesaler, or restaurant owner, you are always assured that any seafood you buy is genuine, harvested responsibly, and came from a conservation-focused fishery within the U.S. territory.
If you are a chef or restaurant owner, you can build your marketing approach by offering the stories of how Gulf Wild fish are caught and harvested. You can build trust and loyalty among your patrons who also support sustainability and environment-friendly ways of fishing.
And with the program, fishermen have full control of their fishing seasons, so they can provide a regular supply of fish without the need to increase prices. Thus, as consumers, you are assured that you can always buy fish at reliable prices, and you’ll always get the freshest products.
How YOU can help further sustainable fishing
As the consumer, you have much more power than you may think. The dollars you spend, and where you spend them to account for such a great deal of influence that many seafood companies go out of their way to create similar ‘looking’ brands, however, these often have little to no real substance behind them. They are merely designs that make you think you’re buying sustainably caught fish.
When you buy seafood, ask questions. Ask where the fish came from. If it wasn’t sourced in the U.S., there’s a pretty good chance it was not sustainably sourced.