Sustainability glossary

Beam trawls are a certain type of bottom trawls. The net is dragged by the cutter over the seabed on skid-like shoes. A rigid trawl beam keeps the net open under water. Due to their high dead weight, beam trawls are true energy guzzlers. Their rollers and skids do massive harm to the seabed and its inhabitants. 
Target species: flatfish, shrimp 
Impacts: bycatch of flatfish, young fish, bottom-living organisms and vegetation, corals, etc., damage to the seabed 

Bottom longlines are spread horizontally along the seabed. The specific species caught are dependent on the position and type of the hooks or baits. 
Target species: various fish species, among others codfish or halibut 
Impacts: less problems with seabird bycatch than pelagic longlines, since bottom longlines are located deeper; little impacts on the seabed 

When fishing with Danish seines, an anchor is first dropped to which a fishing line is attached. Starting from the anchor, the net and the second fishing line are laid out in a circle. Back to the anchor, the fishing lines are pulled back, driving the fish located at the bottom into the net. Danish seines are suitable for inshore fishing of flatfish. This technique is especially widespread in Denmark (“snurrevaad”).
Target species: flatfish such as plaice and sole 
Impacts: especially compared to bottom trawls, the impact on the seabed is relatively little; the fish are of top quality  

The net floats in the water like a wall and is kept open with floats on the top and with weights on the bottom. The use of drift nets involves large amounts of bycatch, e.g. marine mammals, turtles and sharks. Lost nets do not decay and continue to catch fish as “ghost nets”. These nets have now largely been prohibited by a UN resolution. 

Whether a fishery is “sustainable” or not is substantially dependent on the fishing method used to catch the fish. On the one hand, there are fishing methods (e.g. bottom trawling) that destroy the environment (e.g. the seabed); on the other, there are fishing methods that are so “effective” that they eliminate entire stocks (uncontrolled, FAD-based purse seining). The fishing method also determines the amount of bycatch (see bycatch). Followfish exclusively relies on environmentally friendly fishing methods that are considered to be “good” by e.g. WWF Germany. The most important fishing methods are listed in the sustainability glossary.

Since 2008, the German Sustainability Award has been honouring the most sustainable enterprises, products, brands and concepts on an annual basis. The goal is to “reward” exemplary sustainable enterprises and give them the public attention they deserve for their commitment. Followfish was first nominated for the German Sustainability Award in 2011 and was instantly ranked among the top 3 of 670 nominees in the category “Product”. 

Gillnets form a “net wall” by hanging vertically in the water. They may also be embedded in the seabed and can be up to 30 metres in height. The nets are designed in such a way that fish of a certain size can fit their heads through the mesh opening but not their bodies. When they try to swim out of the net, they get stuck with their gill covers. 
Target species: various fish species such as herring, plaice, codfish 
Impacts: bycatch of young fish, marine mammals, seabirds, sharks, turtles, seals, etc. 

Traditional method to collect especially shellfish or mussels. Tongs or rakes are usually used as aids. 
Target species: mussels, spiny lobsters 
Impacts: very selective, no impacts on the seabed

Handlines are relatively short fishing lines to which a baited hook is attached. They are handled out of moving or stationary boats. 
Target species: various fish species, e.g. codfish, mackerel, tuna, grouper, snapper, cuttlefish 
Impacts: very selective, no impacts of the seabed. 

Harpoons are used by experienced fishermen to catch large, precious predatory fish. The fisherman thrusts his harpoon into the fish and pulls it on board. This method is very selective, since the fisherman recognises the size of the fish beforehand. 
Target species: tuna, swordfish 
Impacts: very selective, no impacts on the seabed 

Illegal fishing is every form of not regulated and undocumented fishing. Simply every fish, which is caught by unauthorized trapping methods, during off-periods or in marine reserves. It also violates international law if more volume of fish is taken out of our oceans than it is allowed. Illegal fishing is the main reason for overfishing and the extinction of threatened fish species. According to estimates of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) one third of the annual worldwide fishing volume is caught without control. A huge damage, which not only threatens our oceans but also strains all those fishermen who adhere to the law. WWF estimates further, that the financial loss ads up to round about 22 billion Euro which harms the global, law-abiding fish industry. The main reason for this situation are diverse and huge global supply lines with a number of loopholes through which illegally caught fish are introduced into legal trade routes. That is why transparency and traceability of our products is so important to us. It is the only way how we can guarantee that firstly, the quality and fishing conditions of our products are impeccable and secondly, law-abiding fishermen get their livelihood protected. 
More about illegal fishing can be found on the WWF website: 
And at Greenpeace:
followfood GmbH is a company that stands for sustainability, transparency and a serious, respectful treatment of our environment and food. The Friedrichshafen based corporation produces and distributes the brands followfish and followfood which deliver sustainable food in best quality. Guided by the approach „follow the true taste“, the company introduced in 2007 the market innovation of a tracking code on every pack, so that consumers can follow online the whole supply and delivery chain of all products and bio ingredients. In recent years, Germany’s most sustainable company has been awarded with multiple prizes for that, such as „Bio Brand of the Year 2015“ in gold. In this year, followfood also was ranked under the „Top 3 Sustainable Products“ in Germany with its "Pizza Vegetariana Bio“. Until December 2015, the followfood corporation has been operating under the name Fish & More GmbH.

This method is particularly used to catch cuttlefish. A line is moved up and down in the water. At night, a light is frequently used to attract the cuttlefish, which are subsequently caught by the moving hook. 
Target species: especially cuttlefish 
Impacts: little environmental impacts 

Longline fishing utilises fishing lines of up to 100 kilometres length to which several thousands of baited hooks are attached. A distinction is made between pelagic longlines and bottom longlines.


MSC stands for Marine Stewardship Council and represents the largest certification organisation for sustainable fisheries worldwide. Stringent standards developed in cooperation with WWF rate fisheries according to strict sustainability criteria. In doing so, especially the factors “sustainability of fish stocks”, “impact of fishery on the ecosystem”, and “fishery management” are assessed and, if necessary, developed in cooperation with the fisheries. MSC is active throughout the world. Its efforts over the last few years have been extremely successful; the number of certified fisheries is constantly increasing. As a result of this, the pressure is increased on non-certified fisheries, which usually have no prospects of receiving a certification either, as they do not comply with the sustainability criteria of MSC. Followfish supports the activities of MSC. 

A certification standard that “rewards” fisheries complying with stringent sustainability criteria. The special thing about the standard is that it is developed – within certain general requirements – by the fisheries, the local authorities, the local NGOs and the local fisheries science individually for each fishery. As a result, the fisheries and the concerned stakeholders are involved in the process from the very beginning and their awareness of “good and exemplary fishing practices” is strengthened. 


Stands for non-governmental organisation. They are important components of the joint involvement on behalf of different, sustainable fishery. Followfish regards NGOs as central and essential institutions in the framework consisting of sustainable fishery, consumers, brand suppliers like followfish and the trade. Whereas NGOs and the economy used to work against rather than with each other, which is sometimes unfortunately still the case today, followfish regards NGOs as partners and a great opportunity to create a new world (of food). Followfish is the official partner of WWF Germany and maintains good relations to other NGOs as well.

Pelagic longlines are hung vertically into the water body. This technique involves bycatch, particularly turtles, seabirds, sharks and young fish. 
Target species: various fish species, especially tuna and swordfish 
Impacts: bycatch of young fish, turtles, seabirds, sharks, marine mammals 

Fishing method where mainly tuna is caught and thrown on board with a fishpole according to the old method. This technique utilises the instinct of tuna to open and close their mouth at close intervals during hunting to snatch their prey. Click here for more information on this:

Fishpoles are used to catch schooling fish species, especially tuna, more specifically skipjack and white tuna. The fish are lured to the water surface with live baits and pulled on board using fishpoles (only hooks, no bait anymore). 
Target species: various schooling fish species, especially tuna 
Impacts: very selective, no impacts on the seabed; no bycatch; sometimes fish that are no “target species” are caught but never wasted   

Nets of 120 to 250 metres in height and up to two kilometres in length are placed in a circle around a shoal of fish. The lower part of the net is drawn tight and the fish get caught like in a large bag. To maximise the result, what are referred to as fish aggregation devices (FADs) are used. FADs are floating objects making use of the natural instinct of many fish species to group around such objects. At first, small fish are attracted, which are followed by large ones. The use of FADs involves large amounts of bycatch. 
Target species: many fish species, especially tuna 
Impacts: bycatch of young tuna, sharks, turtles, marine mammals 

The followfish principle provides a brief overview of the vision and mission of followfish and is an integral part of each followfish product packaging. It reads as follows: We believe that today’s consumers would like to know where the products they eat come from. All our fish come from either organic aquacultures or certified sustainable wild stocks. We also believe that today’s consumers prefer to eat purely natural products free of additives and gene technology. Each followfish package carries a tracking code so that our customers are able to find specific information about the origin, fishing method, processing and transport of our products on the Internet. 

The tracking code “invented” by followfish makes it possible for customers to trace back a certain product to its origin. By introducing the tracking code in 2008, followfish caused quite a stir in the industry. Supplier relations and the identity of suppliers used to be well-kept, non-public “trade secrets”. Followfish considers this approach to be outdated and not customer-oriented. Today’s customers would like to know what they eat and where it comes from. See also – the followfish principle. 

Trammel nets are similar to gillnets but consist of three nets vertically attached to the seabed. The outer nets are wide-meshed; in the middle, there is a close-meshed net in which the fish get caught. 
Target species: bottom-living fish species 
Impacts: bycatch of small fish, unwanted species, marine mammals 

Traps are net tubes standing on the seabed. The fish are guided to the entrance of the traps using one or several guide nets. Traps are basically ecologically harmless. 
Target species: fish, especially eels  
Impacts: scarce environmental impacts 

Trawls are conical nets of often several kilometres in length, which are dragged either through the open water (pelagic trawls) or over the seabed (bottom trawls). The use of bottom trawls involves large amounts of bycatch and may do considerable harm to the marine environment
WWF regards bottom trawling as an obsolete technique that should be put an end to in the next few years. 
Target species: fish, shrimp 
Impacts: bycatch of turtles, marine mammals, young fish, non-marketable fish species, invertebrates, corals (up to 60 percent!), damage to the seabed  

This method involves (usually several) baited fishing lines, which are dragged through the water. They can be used at various depths. 
Target species: e.g. tuna, marlin, barracuda, salmon 
Impacts: very selective, no impacts on the seabed