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

Public aquaria are home to both freshwater and saltwater aquatic animals and plants for the public to observe and enjoy.  Since 1990, more than 100 public aquaria have opened, and their number continues to grow each year. The expansion reflects public enthusiasm, increasing awareness, and sensitivity to conservation issues and sustainability.

Friend of the Sea believes that Aquariums offer not only a unique experience to engage closely with animals, but an underappreciated opportunity to foster public appreciation and advocacy to aquatic conservation and sustainability. 

The educational opportunities offered by aquaria offer the public a means to appreciate the intrinsic value of nature by witnessing it firsthand. Experiencing aquatic life firsthand allows individuals to develop affection for the animals, and when the experience is matched with education revolving the undesirable state of the aquatic environment, empathetic reactions can be evoked which translates to promoting pro-environmental behavior change.  With 150 million people visiting aquaria a year, there exist huge opportunities to educate and build love for our oceans.

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