The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has teamed up with Chinese firms including e-commerce giant Alibaba in a move to promote sustainable seafood procurement.

The MSC said today (9 June) it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Alibaba’s Tmall platform that will “prioritise purchasing seafood from sustainable sources”. “Tmall also committed to a target of 20% of seafood products sold with the MSC ecolabel by 2020,” the MSC said.

The agreement follows the MSC’s call in April to boost sustainability by increasing the global marine catch either certified or engaged in the MSC programme from 14% to 20% by 2020.

MSC global commercial director Nicolas Guichoux said: “Sustainable seafood procurement strategies and goals are common in European and North American markets, especially for retailers, and they have had a critical role in driving the transformation of the sustainable seafood industry over the last 20 years since the MSC was established.”

Tmall Fresh general manager Ray Ho said the agreement signified the group’s “support towards sustainable seafood development and the importance of certified fresh seafood imported to our Chinese consumers”.

Ho claimed Tmall “will be the only primary platform to release new labelled certified products, and jointly organise a promotion programme”.

According to the MSC, Tmall has more than 375m active buyers and can handle 25m payments per second.

Pei Liang, the general secretary of the China Chain Store Franchise Association, said “more and more Chinese seafood enterprises have joined the MSC programme and are trying their best to provide MSC ecolabel products to the Chinese seafood market”.

“Seafood is one area of priority and we encourage retailers to develop responsible procurement goals, recommend MSC-certified seafood to the Chinese market, and provide more sustainable choices for Chinese consumers,” Ho said.