The first comprehensive study of the implementation of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition’s codes of conduct shows the positive impact of the codes since they were agreed on two years ago.
The vast majority of products in supermarkets are now responsibly sourced and labelled consistently, in line with our voluntary codes. Clear and consistent labelling has increased by 15% since the SSC was founded in 2011.
The SSC has 24 members across all sectors of the UK seafood supply chain and account for 75% of fish and seafood sold in UK supermarkets. The codes of conduct were developed and agreed by all the members, and this study represents the first assessment of the implementation of these codes so far.
ClientEarth Sustainable Seafood Project Lead Katie Miller said: “As more and more shops label and source seafood using the same criteria, customers can have faith that the products they buy are truly sustainable. Now other seafood businesses – from chip shops to restaurant chains and school canteens – must step up to make sure the fish they sell is responsibly sourced and clearly labelled.”
Key findings of the study show that of a total of 80 products assessed:
- 97% of voluntary environmental claims from SSC members used clear and consistent language in line with the requirements of the SSC Labelling Code.
- 97% of products from SSC members meet the transparency, traceability and risk assessment requirements of the SSC Sourcing Code.
- Whilst 3% of claims from SSC members did not align with the criteria in the labelling code, this compares to 14% of claims made by other businesses that are not following this best practice.
Inconsistent labelling and sourcing claims by UK supermarkets was identified as a problem in a 2011 study which found that terms like ‘sustainable sourced’ and ‘responsibly farmed’ were being used with no set criteria against which to make the claim.
By creating a benchmark for minimum good practice on environmental sustainability, the SSC Codes of Conduct create consistency in the actions businesses take to source more responsibly, and the words they use to communicate it.
This report shows that SSC members take their commitments seriously. By creating a benchmark for all businesses to meet, seafood is beginning to be sourced more responsibly. We invite all other businesses that sell seafood in the UK to join the SSC.
Image: Ted McGrath