Fish & Seafood


Almost half the fish consumed worldwide is still caught in the wild as opposed to being farmed. And that is as it should be, because wild fish and seafood are a high-quality, renewable resource. We just have to treat them with respect so that we can keep them that way in future. We also need to keep a firm eye on aquatic habitats and the wellbeing of those who catch and process the fish.

The Naturland Wild Fish standard for sustainable fisheries provides the correct framework for achieving this. The Naturland Wild Fish certification is geared primarily towards small, artisan fisheries and those that set a particularly good example. Whether the fish are caught at sea, on a lake or in rivers, certified fisheries benefit from a premium label and customers enjoy their fish with a clear conscience.


In addition to the general regulations on sustainable fisheries, Naturland collaborates with independent experts to define specific additional farming requirements on an ecological, social and economic level for each individual fishery. The supplementary requirements are highly customised to deal with the specific challenges faced by each fishery and updated every two years based on their latest circumstances. They are always set in consultation with external experts and the fishery itself. Once finalised, the farming requirements must be met in full. Furthermore, fisheries with a Naturland Wild Fish certification must adhere to our obligatory social standards at all stages of the value chain. Last but not least, Naturland Wild Fish products must be processed in accordance with the Naturland standards for organic products and thoroughly inspected.


The key themes of the Naturland standards for sustainable fisheries are: using fish stocks and the overall ecosystem sparingly, avoiding critical or environmentally damaging methods of capture, complying with social standards for fishery and fish processing employees, using organic methods for finer processing and a well-publicised, transparent certification process for all stages of the value chain.

Nile perch, Tanzania

Covering an area of 68,800 square kilometres, Lake Victoria is not only the largest but also the most economically significant lake in Africa. As many as 1M tonnes of fish are caught here each year, creating jobs and income for a large number of Tanzanians, Kenyans and Ugandans. To keep it that way in future, the Naturland certification ensures that stocks are fished responsibly and that the living and working conditions of those in the fishing community are improved.

Nile perch (also known as Victoria perch) is the fishermen's bread and butter. This predatory fish, which grows to an average of 1 metre long, is caught using a bottom-set gillnet and hook, and is processed by hand on site. The Naturland Wild Fish guidelines ensure that the Nile perch stocks are fished sustainably and that the ecosystem of this enormous lake is protected. Naturland's high social standards increase the quality of life of the fishermen and their families. In addition to fundamental improvements such as access to clean drinking water, life jackets and medical care, Naturland supports the fishermen's wives, for example, in finding employment. They learn skills such as tailoring and dressmaking, and sell food in purpose-built canteens. Having a second income means that the families are not completely reliant on the success of the catch. Naturland also invests in education for both children and adults.

In 2008, Naturland worked with the seafood importer ANOVA, the processor Supreme Perch (formerly VicFish), the German society for international cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH) and consultancy firm AgroEco to implement the first sustainable wild fishing project in Bukoba, Tanzania, on the western shore of the lake. Every two years, Naturland works with scientific experts and those from non-government organisations, industry and administration, as well as processors, fishermen and members of the fishing community to discuss and redefine the joint farming requirements for the project based on regional circumstances. The round table discussion takes place by Lake Victoria in conjunction with all Naturland's certified fishing projects, with the aim of developing a set of common, project-specific farming requirements.


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  • The fisheries at a glance

    • Fishing methods: Bottom-set gillnet with a mesh width over 15 cm and hooks in size 9, 10 or 11.
    • Targeted fish species: Nile perch (Lates niloticus)
    • Boat size: 12 metres
  • Bukoba Sustainable Nile Perch Fishery Project

    • Based in: Bukoba
    • Naturland-certified since 2009
    • Fishing zone: Nyamkazi, Igabiro, Rushala, Nyanbesiga, Kerebe, Mkaibwa
    • Number of fishermen: 585
    • Number of boats: 195

    In 2008, a group of experts met in Bukoba, a town on the western shore of Lake Victoria and capital of the Kagera region, to develop the project-specific farming requirements for the world's first fishery certification based on the Naturland standards for sustainable fishing. In January 2009, representatives from Naturland and TanCert (the commissioned inspection body) carried out inspections on site. In May 2009, after reviewing the facts at hand and expert opinions provided, and once any reservations and objections had been resolved, the certification was issued.

  • Alpha Tanzania Sustainable Nile Perch Fishery Project Mwanza

    • Based in: Mwanza
    • Fishing zome: Ihale and Mchangani Kome
    • Number of fishermen: 129
    • Number of boats: 43

    On 29 and 30 July 2010, a group of experts met in Mwanza, the largest town on the Tanzanian southern shore of Lake Victoria, to develop the project-specific farming requirements for certification. In 2010, representatives from Naturland and TanCert (the commissioned inspection body) carried out on-site inspections. The final independent inspections were carried out by TanCert between 16 and 22 April 2011.

  • NPF Sustainable Nile Perch Fishery Mwanza

    • Based in: Mwanza
    • Naturland-certified since: 2011
    • Fishing zone: Ihale and Kigangama
    • Number of fishermen: 129
    • Number of boats: 43

    On 9 and 10 January 2011, a group of experts met in Mwanza, the largest town on the Tanzanian southern shore of Lake Victoria, to develop the project-specific farming requirements for certification. In 2011, representatives from Naturland and TanCert (the commissioned inspection body) carried out on-site inspections. The final independent inspections were carried out by TanCert on 10 September 2011 and 9 March 2013.

    The requirements produced by the group of experts at each meeting were adopted by the Naturland Standards Committee and added to the inspection checklists.

Farming requirements

The Naturland standards for sustainable fishing stipulate that the relevant sections of the inspection report must be published at least four weeks before a certification decision is made by the Naturland certification committee on a particular fishery or on any conditions that must be met within a certain period. Publishing the information contained in inspection reports is intended to enable a wider circle of interested organisations, experts and individuals to provide comment and – where they have made their own observations on specific matters – scrutinise the information accordingly. After reviewing the facts at hand and expert opinions provided, and once any reservations and objections had been resolved, the certification was issued.

Saithe, Germany

Two German fishing boats are currently certified and operate in the northern part of the North Sea, predominantly catching pollock but also haddock and hake using semi-pelagic otter trawls. The boats mainly depart from the Danish port of Hanstholm on multi-day fishing trips. The fish are gutted on board and put on ice ready for further processing on land.


  • Fishing zone: FAO 27, Northern North Sea and Skagerrak 4a, b and 3a20
  • Fishing methods: Pelagic and semi-pelagic otter trawl
  • Targeted fish species: Pollock (Pollachius virens), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), hake (Merluccius merluccius)
  • Number of fisheries: 2
  • Number of boats: 2 (IRIS, Janne Kristin)
  • Boat size: Approx. 40 metres

This highly selective pollock fishery endeavours to minimise its impact on the marine ecosystem. As such, special nets with low yarn strength and high mesh widths are used. Lighter nets minimise mileage and contact with the seabed. Finally, using a wider mesh gives smaller, younger fish the chance to escape. The boats are also restricted to specific fishing corridors based on detailed marine charts and expert opinions.

Tuna, Azores

In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean lies a cluster of Portuguese islands named the Azores. As well as being a long-standing tradition here, artisan fishing is also a major industry alongside agriculture and tourism. Respecting the sea and its resources is something the fishermen of the Azores do as a matter of course in order to safeguard their future livelihoods. They also have the support of both scientists and politicians.

THe Fishery ar a Glance

  • Fishing zone: 27.10 (Azores) and 34.1.2 (Madeira)
  • Fishing methods: Fishing rods
  • Targeted fish species: Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), albacore (Thunnus alalunga)
  • Number of fishermen: Approx. 40
  • Number of boats: Approx. 10
  • Boat size: Max. 31 metres

The fishermen of APASA, a fishing cooperative based in Faial, have specialised in catching tuna – predominantly skipjack tuna and albacore tuna. They have been catching their fish for generations using just fishing rods. This method of fishing is highly selective and has no detrimental effect on the marine environment. The fishing season starts in June and ends in September, as this is when the shoals of tuna swim past the islands.

The fish are processed in a small regional factory in São Jorge. This is where they produce high-quality tinned products mainly by hand. The factory is the largest employer on the island.

Farming Requirements

Die Naturland Richtlinien für die Nachhaltige Fischerei verlangen die Veröffentlichung der relevanten Teile des Inspektionsberichtes mindestens vier Wochen vor der Entscheidung der Naturland Anerkennungskommission über die Zertifizierung einer Fischerei bzw. über Auflagen, die innerhalb einer bestimmten Frist zu erfüllen sind. Die Veröffentlichung soll vor allem einem weiteren Kreis von interessierten Organisationen, Experten und Privatpersonen ermöglichen, die Informationen im Inspektionsbericht zu kommentieren bzw. - sofern eigene Erkenntnisse zu bestimmten Sachverhalten vorliegen - sie auch kritisch zu hinterfragen. Nachdem es keinerlei Bedenken oder Einsprüche gab, wurde nach Prüfung der Faktenlage und Expertenmeinungen ein positiver Zertifizierungsentscheid getroffen.



The first step towards a collaboration is to have a conversation and exchange information. Naturland provides detailed information on its joint initiatives as well as the technical and formal aspects of certification to fisheries and processors who express an interest in becoming certified. The fishery in question would first be requested to introduce its business, work and company structure. To facilitate this step, Naturland sends an initial registration form to the fishery. The aim of the initial registration form is to help capture the business’s key information and figures.


The next step is for a Naturland representative to visit the fishery and conduct an initial evaluation. The initial evaluation is then followed by a detailed agenda. The aim of the visit is to gain an impression of the situation on site and to work out the necessary steps towards certification with all parties involved. The initial evaluation is also used to prepare for the expert panel.


Specific requirements are developed for each individual fishery in addition to the general requirements for sustainable fisheries. The requirements are decided during an expert meeting, which all fisheries are obliged to host. Naturland reserves the right to either accept the recommendations of the fishery or a third party for the expert meeting, reject them with reasons or require amendments be made. The experts in attendance should cover the following areas:

  • Scientific institutions
  • Fishing authorities
  • (NGO)
  • Companies from the fishing and processing industry

To ensure that the details of the specific requirements are always kept up to date, the expert meeting is repeated every two years.


Naturland publishes the section of the inspection report that is relevant to the public on its website in order to reach as wide an audience as possible. This section of the inspection report is published for a minimum of four weeks. The business is given the opportunity to comment on the reservations.

If a future collaboration is agreed, Naturland orders an inspection of the fishery by an independent, accredited inspection body.

Naturland decides on the basis of the inspection report whether to certify the company.  The inspection is repeated on an annual basis and the certification renewed accordingly.


The costs incurred by the company result from the following items: expenses and travel costs for the initial visit, an annual Naturland member contribution, inspection costs (which may vary depending on the inspection body) and a licence fee for logo usage. This is based on a sublicence agreement that the company enters into directly with Naturland Zeichen GmbH.

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