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International Seafood Sustainability Foundation

A scientific, global and systematic approach to protect oceans

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a non-profit organization whose members include the most eminent scientists and marine biologists, various NGOs (including WWF International) and 75% of the world’s leading tuna canning industries.

Established in 2009, in addition to being one of its founders, Bolton Food is also one of the organization’s most active members.


The ISSF promotes science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting the health of the marine ecosystem.

ISSF’s end goal is to help all fisheries achieve the sustainability standards established by  Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

The ISSF manages more than 12 million dollars that have been allocated to scientific research activities at sea.

Since its inception, ISSF has adopted conservation measures and is committed to facilitating this mission with the intention that processors, traders, importers, transporters and others involved in the seafood industry will follow them to facilitate real and continuous improvement across global tuna stocks.

ISSF participating companies commit to complying with these conservation measures to improve the long-term health of tuna fisheries. They must also adhere to the ISSA (International Seafood Sustainability Association) Compliance Policy.

ISSF participating companies choose to commit to honoring 22 conservation measures grouped into eight macro-areas and to undergo annual audits conducted by third party bodies.

Bolton Food was found to be compliant in the 2017 audit

Among these conservation measures1, the most important include:

  • a commitment not to make purchases from vessels registered by the EU or RFMO (Regional Fishery Management Organization) in the IUU  (Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated Fishing) list;
  • the obligation, when fishing from large Purse Seiners, to only make purchases from vessels registered in the ProActive Vessel Register (PVR), a register instituted by the ISSF to identify and trace, both transparently and publicly, vessels adopting the practices identified by the ISSF for sustainable tuna fishing, in full compliance with ISSF resolutions;
  • the limitation of fishing capacity permitting ISSF members to only make their tuna purchases from large Purse Seiners that are already operative or which were in the process of being built on 31/12/2012;
  • a commitment to only make purchases from vessels with an IMO  (International Maritime Organization), UVI (Unique Vessel Identifier) or TUVI (Tuna Unique Vessel Identifier)  identification number.

The ISSF’s strategy is based on three pillars:


Where the objective is to advance the sustainability of tuna stocks and their ecosystems through continuous improvement – measurably demonstrated – across global fisheries.



Where the objective is to exercise influence, thanks to advocacy activities, among all the players in the tuna world to promote and expedite actions necessary to advance the sustainability of tuna stocks and their ecosystems.



Where the objective is to maintain and enhance credibility through transparency and  compliance.

The new tuna stock status monitoring tool provided by the ISSF, falls within the first area of the commitment.

This interactive tool, developed by the ISSF’s Science and Communication team and reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Committee, allows users to access the past and present data of ISSF’s Report on the state of 23 tuna stocks worldwide.  Furthermore, it enables users to monitor tuna stock health trends since 2011 as well as the recent volume of tuna caught by fishing method.

The Sustainable Development Director of Bolton Food is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of ISSF and  ISSA

Among the commitments taken by Bolton Food as an ISSF, one is related to shark finning and mutilation. It references to Conservation Measure 3.1(a), a policy expressing prohibition of any type of commercial activity and/or relationship with other companies that carry out, promote or defend the mutilation of sharks for commercial use exclusively of its fins (“shark finning”). In particular, Bolton Food requires all its tuna suppliers to ban shark finning, to require tuna vessels to keep the entire bodies of the captured sharks disembarked and to report their capture, except for the species that are prohibited by laws or regulations of the RFMOs, or those individuals which are released alive. Further, Bolton Food, in accordance with the ISSF requirement, does not carry out commercial transactions with companies that own vessels that practice shark finning, or with companies that have not made public a policy that prohibits this activity