By Frank E. Mars, Chairman of the Board, Mars, Incorporated
At Mars, we believe that the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today. Words alone, however, will not bring about this future state. We must increasingly challenge ourselves every day to do our part to bring this future world to life.
As we look at the world’s oceans today, climate change, overexploitation, destructive fishing practices and marine pollution have impacted ocean health significantly. Scientists estimate that, if we do nothing, 90% of the world’s tropical reefs will be gone by 2043, threatening 25% of all the world’s marine life and impacting nearly 500 million people who depend on them for food, income and coastal protection. According to the FAO, a third of fish stocks around the world have been overfished or fished to their ecological limit. This is unacceptable.
We care deeply about these issues. Our success as a business – and the success of our global economy and communities – depends on the health of our oceans. We know that we can’t singlehandedly solve this issue, but that’s not a reason for complacency or inaction – we have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to try and to form partnerships for greater impact.
One of the actions we have taken as part of our Sustainable in a Generation Plan is our longstanding commitment to work toward 100% sustainably sourced fish in our pet food recipes. Today, we’re 81% of the way toward that goal. And, none of the fish we source is from IUCN identified endangered species.
We’ve been working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for over a decade to review, innovate and scale our approach to more sustainable fish sourcing. We are also collaborating with certifying organizations and industry experts at the Marine Stewardship Council, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and Aquaculture Stewardship Council to make our fish buying practices more sustainable. These collaborations have been vital to our progress, and we’re extending our partnership with WWF to 2025 to help us advance toward our 100% goal and partner on work on environmental and social challenges in this sector together.
Mars is also increasingly being recognized for its pioneering efforts in developing a scalable and successful method to restore coral reefs. As the oceans’ most diverse ecosystem, healthy coral reefs are key to having a healthy ocean. Our more than a decade of work and $10M invested in research, active coral reef rebuilding and community engagement has led to dramatic results. In just three years, our projects have increased coral cover from 5% to 55%.
Sustainable ocean resources can only be achieved by supporting these incredible natural assets. More coral today means more fish tomorrow — and represents a vital step forward in restoring our planet’s health and biodiversity.
To protect the health of our oceans, we know that we need to reduce pressure on vulnerable fisheries, reward sustainably sourced fish, restore critical habitats and ecosystems and advance respect for people in the fishing industry. These four pillars of our strategy are guiding our work with partners and communities around the world.
Companies that rely on oceans for their success have a responsibility to do what they can to take pressure off of vulnerable ecosystems and to restore ecosystems where they can. The UN has declared the next ten years as the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn how we’re taking action with our Sheba Hope Reef, the world’s largest coral reef restoration project. Mars is stepping up to do our part, and we all must step up our efforts during this decade of action.