Retailers need to commit to sustainable sourcing and invest in efforts to restore the marine environment if they want to guarantee future fish supplies, the WWF has warned.

The NGO recently published a report that concluded the world’s oceans had a huge economic value, but were facing an “unrelenting assault” of overexploitation, misuse and climate change.

It called for urgent global action to restore ocean resources by viewing them as “an important business asset that requires sustainable management and investment”.

WWF economics advisor Toby Roxburgh said that, in the UK, improved fisheries management would play a central role in efforts to safeguard marine assets.

Much of the impetus will lie with the government, which he said needed to address marine conservation zones, discard policies and quota allocations. However, businesses also needed to “understand their dependency on the marine environment” and “invest in sustaining and restoring the oceans”, Roxburgh said.

Supermarkets should be sourcing more MSC-certified fish and investing in long-term supply chain initiatives, he added.

Toby Middleton, senior country manager UK for the MSC, said the fishing industry was making progress towards sustainability and putting competition aside to collaborate on MSC certification.

The MSC was recently involved in Project Inshore - a Seafish initiative that aimed to provide a roadmap to sustainability for the UK’s inshore fisheries. The project revealed stocks of North Sea cod -one of the worst victims of overfishing - could reach sustainable levels within five years.

However, it warned the vast majority of UK fisheries were still falling short on sustainability.