THE SUSTAINABLE Seafood Coalition (SSC) – a coalition of major seafood suppliers, brands, supermarkets and restaurants – has launched a new scheme to make the labelling and sourcing of sustainable fish clearer for shoppers.
The SSC has published two new voluntary codes of conduct to help guide their members' environmental labelling and sourcing policies. One has been designed to ensure consumers know what environmental claims about fish and seafood mean, while the second has been created so that coalition members source their fish and seafood products responsibly.
By signing the labelling code, businesses commit to all voluntary environmental claims like 'sustainably sourced' and 'responsibly sourced' made on their own-brand seafood being consistent, clear and accurate.
By agreeing to the sourcing code, members commit to having good traceability, being transparent about their sourcing policies, and carrying out annual risk assessments on fisheries and also audits for aquaculture sources.
Signatories so far include: Co-operative Food, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Feng Sushi, River Cottage, Lyons Seafoods, New England Seafood Limited, The Saucy Fish Co / Icelandic Group UK Ltd, Young's Seafood Limited, Direct Seafoods, Le Lien Ltd and M&J Seafood.
All those who have so far signed up have committed to implementing the sourcing code within one year, by which point they will have engagement plans in place to improve any medium or high risk fisheries or farms.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "I know that huge numbers of consumers want to buy genuinely sustainable seafood – but identifying it can sometimes be a challenge due to a lack of clear information. These codes make it that much easier for shoppers to find responsibly sourced fish. They represent a crucial step in the ongoing battle to ensure all the seafood on our plates is sustainable.
James Thornton, Chief Executive at ClientEarth, added: "People looking for sustainable fish have often had too little information about where their fish and seafood comes from. When we launched the Sustainable Seafood Coalition three years ago, some thought getting so many businesses to agree to codes like this was impossible. The members deserve a lot of credit for showing it can be done."
Mike Berthet, Director at M&J Seafood, said: "I am delighted that clarity surrounding such terms as 'sustainable and responsible' has finally been resolved with the commitment of processors, retailers, restaurateurs and wholesale foodservice distributors such as M&J Seafood, under the leadership of ClientEarth and the Sustainable Seafood Coalition. It is refreshing that when necessary, we can all work together for the better improvement of the Seafood Industry."