Sustainable Aquaria

The Friend of the Sea certification contributes to conservation and sustainability of Aquariums by certifying the animal welfare and promoting the environmental policy

Public Aquaria

Friend of the Sea Certified Aquaria

Public aquaria offer the unique experience of witnessing species of marine life first-hand, and in many cases species of aquatic flora and fauna that many would otherwise never see without the exclusive opportunity.

While public aquaria continue to grow in numbers worldwide, Friend of the Sea has recognised the need for greater attention to be paid for aquaria to ensure the upkeep of sustainability principles and animal welfare.  

Nature experiences have also been well-documented in scholarly literature to explain pro-environmental behaviour in humans, with intimate marine experiences offered by aquaria delivering these profound, behaviour changing opportunities.


Friend of the sea therefore recognises aquaria experiences as an underappreciated chance to foster public empathy towards nature, ultimately leading to greater care, attention and advocacy to aquatic conservation and sustainability when making decisions.

With around 150 million aquarium visits a year, aquaria harness the power to truly contribute to the climate emergency and conservational issues through experience-led education.

Sustainable Aquaria Certification, incorporating sustainability, animal welfare and education

To be considered a truly sustainable aquaria, it is vital to ensure that the aquaria are actively involved in not only implementing the highest standards of animal welfare, but are also engaged in conservation breeding programs to conserve the endangered species. 

The Friend of the Sea Aquaria Certification not only pertains to fulfilling sustainable management obligations but is also implemented in those aquaria which use tangible marine experiences as a vehicle for conservational education.

Subsequently, aquaria applying for Friend of the Sea certification are required to establish, on top of robust a sustainability policy, waste management and social accountability, comprehensive science information surrounding each species, and to organise annual conservational education courses.

Can public aquaria be green?

Yes – public aquaria can certainly be sustainable!

With the industry experiencing rapid growth, we need to ensure that green aquaria are actively involved in conservation breeding programs to maintain the sustainability of threatened ornamental fish species as well as the sustainability of our environment. Indeed, aquaria have the responsibility to reach out to the population and teach them about conservation, sustainability to safeguard the integrity of aquatic life.

It is estimated that public aquaria may attract as many as 450 million visitors a year!  

The Standard for Green Aquaria Certification

Friend of the Sea criteria for sustainable aquaria certification require:

sustainable aquaria

Ornamental Species

The sustainable ornamental species certification refers to tropical marine and freshwater aquatic species kept at home and in public aquaria. It is estimated that more than 2 billion live aquatic ornamental species are moved annually worldwide, including fishes, corals, crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic plants, and live rocks.

If managed sustainably, the trade in wild caught ornamental fish and other aquatic life can support jobs in predominantly rural, low-income coastal communities, providing strong economic incentives for coral reef conservation in regions where other options for generating revenue are limited.

However, the trade of ornamental species for aquaria has the potential to add pressure to these ecosystems, through the overexploitation of some species and damaging the coral reef.

That’s why Friend of the Sea has developed a certification program for sustainable collection and farming of ornamental species.

The Standard for Ornamental Fish Sustainability

Friend of the Sea’s Ornamental Species Standard, which includes a Chain of Custody audit, helps protect and safeguard the natural environment.

Friend of the Sea criteria for sustainable ornamental species certification require:

Walt Smith International, based in Fiji, became the first company to gain the Friend of the Sea certification for sustainable ornamental fish production.

Apply for our sustainability certifications

Would you like to receive a quotation for Friend of the Sea audit and royalties to use our logo?
Please, fill out the online Preliminary Information Form (PIF):

PIF for Sustainable Aquaria

PIF for Ornamental Species