Author Archives: Katie Miller

fish and chips

The National Fish and Chip Awards

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The UK’s national fish and chip awards ceremony will be taking place in London on Wednesday, 20 January. The awards, organised by Seafish, seek to reward excellence in a range of categories. The judges use criteria ranging from responsible sourcing practices, customer service, hygiene and staff training, and the quality of fish and chips.

There are two award categories that specifically reward the knowledge and promotion of responsible sourcing and sustainability practices: ‘From Field to Frier’ and the ‘Good Catch – The Sustainable Seafood Award’.
Other categories are:

  • Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year
  • Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year
  • Best Mobile Fish and Chip Operator
  • Best Foodservice Operator Award
  • Best Multiple Fish and Chip Operator
  • Best Newcomer
  • Staff Training and Development
  • Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year
  • Marketing Innovation
  • The Great ‘Fish & Chip’ School Lunch
  • Healthy Eating ‘Fish and Chips’
  • NFFF Quality Award Champion

Find out more about the past winners.

Image: Wikipedia
european commission

In support of setting fishing opportunities at sustainable levels

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On 17 September 2015 we sent a letter to the European Commission in support of setting fishing opportunities for 2016 at sustainable levels, as legally required under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Under the CFP, the legally mandated objective for fisheries management is to manage stocks sustainably, meaning the impact of fishing will allow stocks to recover and be maintained above levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield (MSY). This is crucial for our purposes. In particular, we support that:

  • fisheries management must aim to recover or maintain stocks to biomass levels above that which would produce MSY;
  • your proposal for next year’s fishing opportunities should adopt the appropriate MSY-based fishing mortality rates, where it is possible to do so, as required by the CFP; and
  • in mixed fisheries it must be ensured that all stocks are managed according to the MSY objective, meaning some stocks may need to be underexploited to avoid overexploitation of other stocks.

For the sake of our businesses and as part of our commitment to responsible seafood sourcing, we encourage the Commission to propose Total Allowable Catches in line with the CFP’s requirement to achieve MSY exploitation rates for as many stocks as possible in 2016. For stocks where this is not possible, the Commission should show how this will be reached incrementally and progressively by 2020.

On behalf of the following members:

  • British Retail Consortium (BRC)
  • ClientEarth
  • Direct Seafoods
  • Harbour Lights
  • Icelandic Seachill
  • M&J Seafood
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Morrisons
  • New England Seafood
  • River Cottage
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Sustainable Restaurant Association
  • The Co-operative Food
  • Waitrose
  • Young’s Seafood


Image: GlynLowe
tuna cans

SSC members top tuna league table

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Today Greenpeace has released the results of its 2015 tuna league table, which ranks all major UK supermarkets and brands. Greenpeace assess sustainability levels, fishing method, supply chain traceability, legality, protection of local workers and other factors.  The results show strong leadership from SSC members Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s (placed first to third, respectively), as well as Tesco, which jumped up the rankings to fourth place.

Waitrose Aquaculture and Fisheries Manager, Jeremy Ryland Langley, said:
“We are delighted that our efforts in ensuring we offer sustainable and ethical tuna to customers has been recognised. All of our canned tuna is pole and line caught and clearly marked as Marine Stewardship Council certified, including all the tuna in ready-prepared products such as sandwiches and pâtés. In addition all skipjack tuna used as an ingredient in any Waitrose product is also Marine Stewardship Council certified. Sustainability is at the very heart of what we do and we are proud to be market-leading.”

Marks and Spencer said:
“Sourcing ethical and sustainable seafood is something we’re passionate about at M&S so we’re thrilled to feature within the top 2 of the Greenpeace league table. Not only do our customers expect us to source responsibly, but the future of the world’s fisheries depends on it. Tuna is a popular choice with our customers and we work very hard to bring them the highest quality products from fisheries and suppliers we know and trust.”

Ally Dingwall, Aquaculture & Fisheries Manager at Sainsbury’s said:
“We’re delighted that our effort to improve the sustainability of our tuna has been recognised by Greenpeace and encouraged others to follow our lead. We hope further progress can be made within the sector to make our oceans safer for marine species.”

Tesco said:
“We want to ensure that our customers can buy seafood that is both sustainable and affordable. We continue to work hard with our supplier partners and our experts to achieve this.”


Image: Iwan Gabovitch
Fireworks Boat

SSC finalist in the Seafood Champion Awards

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We are delighted that the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) is a finalist in this year’s Seafood Champion Awards. The awards recognise “outstanding leadership in promoting environmentally responsible seafood”. Out of over 90 nominated organisations and individuals, 16 made it through to the finals.

The SSC is nominated for the Seafood Champion Award for Vision, a testament to its successful work in developing voluntary codes of conduct on responsible sourcing and harmonised labelling. Being selected as a finalist marks the SSC’s progress towards its vision that all fish and seafood sold in the UK is from a sustainable source.

The SSC’s 23 members, drawn from all sectors of the seafood industry, worked together for three years to find a common solution for a more responsible and sustainable seafood supply chain. The codes were launched in September 2014.

The voluntary approach and the trust built between seafood businesses in the UK makes for a unique model, and one that “holds great potential for wider replication beyond the UK,” says SSC coordinator Katie Miller. “Our members have defined responsible sourcing behaviour for fish and seafood and we will continue working on new priorities to work towards our vision.”

The four winners (one from each category – leadership, innovation, vision and advocacy) will be announced in February 2016, at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Malta.

Image: Skeeze
g7 japan 2016

World leaders support sustainability

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In June, heads of the seven most industrialised countries met in Germany for their annual summit. Along with David Cameron and Barack Obama, the ‘G7’ pledged to promote more sustainable supply chains around the world.

Following each summit, the G7 releases a summary report. In this year’s, Think Together Act Together, it acknowledged its role in the globalisation process. The G7 called for improved labour rights, working conditions and environmental protection.

Today, production can be a challenging process for multinational businesses that source goods globally. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) complexity across supply chains has increased. For the seafood industry, issues of traceability are even more complex. Fish products often pass through more than one country, paperwork may be in different units or languages, and conflicting laws may apply. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing may also exist, which has many negative effects. These include depleting fish stocks, destroying marine habitat, putting honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and even slavery.

The fact world leaders have collectively recognised the ‘joint responsibility of government and business to foster sustainable supply chains and encourage best practices’ is a huge step to help identify and prevent risks in production. Governments have been called on to persuade businesses in their own territories to carry out due diligence, and strengthen stakeholder initiatives.

In the UK, the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) unites the seafood supply chain in a move that will help achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth’. It is an example of best practice from the UK with members voluntarily working together for greater sustainability across the seafood industry.

Together, we developed a responsible sourcing code that works towards our vision that all fish products sold in the UK will be from a sustainable source. Additionally, members will only make claims about sustainability or responsibility if their products meet the minimum criteria set out in our labelling code. This will help consumers make informed seafood-buying choices.

The SSC has potential to set a precedent for responsible sourcing behaviour in supply chains, in line with the G7’s pledge to support improved sustainability.

Article: Sophia Butler-Cowdry  Image: Crown copyright/ Arron Hoare
This post was updated on 14/12/2016.

First new member joins SSC since launch of codes

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On Tuesday 12 May, Fuller’s joins the SSC as its first new member since the launch of the sourcing and labelling codes in September 2014. Fuller’s, the London brewer and pub company, has almost 400 pubs, hotels and inns in England.

The SSC’s vision is that all fish and seafood sold in the UK is from sustainable sources. Members account for more than 70% of retail seafood sales in the UK. Businesses signing up to the voluntary codes commit to working towards healthy and resilient oceans.

Paul Dickinson, Head of Food at Fuller’s, said: “We’re very pleased to become a member of the SSC and to join like-minded businesses in responsible sourcing to look after our oceans. Provenance of food is extremely important to Fuller’s. We will use the SSC codes to help educate our staff and future chefs in our training programmes.”

Katie Miller, SSC coordinator at ClientEarth, said: “Joining the SSC shows a clear commitment to sustainability. We welcome Fuller’s and look forward to other businesses joining us by signing up to the codes. Industry commitments to responsible sourcing are crucial to ensuring healthy oceans.”

Signing up to the sourcing code means that members commit to the responsible sourcing of all own-brand fish by following good practice, such as good traceability, transparency and openness. The code includes commitment to taking a risk assessment approach to sourcing fish, and basing decisions on the outcomes to help the fishery or farm to move towards sustainability.

The SSC aims to create harmonised seafood labelling that will provide consumers with accurate information on the provenance and sustainability of the fish or seafood. The labelling code is designed to achieve this.

Fuller’s will join the rest of the members and align with the codes by 18 September 2015 – one year after they were publicly launched. Members that have already signed up are: Co-operative Food, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Feng Sushi, Harbour Lights Falmouth, River Cottage, Lyons Seafoods, New England Seafood Limited, Birds Eye UK, The Saucy Fish Co., Icelandic Group UK Ltd, Young’s Seafood Limited, Direct Seafoods, Le Lien Ltd, M&J Seafood.

Article: Katie Miller   Image: A Dose of Ship Boy
This blog was updated on 14/12/2016.

Pollution considered most significant threat to our seas

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After asking over 10,000 people from 10 countries, a survey of Europeans has shown that pollution is the greatest concern for the marine environment. This is followed by overfishing, sea level rise and coastal erosion.

The report found that people feel more concerned about an issue the more informed they are. The levels of concern increased alongside greater understanding of the issues, yet they felt personal actions could not make a difference. Researchers concluded that better engagement between scientists, policymakers, environmental groups and the public is essential, and have asserted that public support is key to successful policies.

There have been a number of positive steps to address marine problems in Europe, including the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy which can bring protection to marine areas from external threats, and by addressing overfishing.

ClientEarth’s research in 2010 found that although people wanted to buy sustainable seafood, there was confusion over the various claims made by suppliers and supermarkets. In working together with industry, the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) has agreed on harmonised labelling of fish and seafood for consistency across the UK supply chain.

The SSC is working to help consumers make clear, consistent and informed choices when it comes to buying seafood. This will create a clear system of labelling and the public can feel better placed to take personal action that can make a difference. The SSC businesses are adopting the responsible sourcing code as well, so the members are making a difference too. We believe this combined approach from the industry and the public is vital for the future of sustainable fishing and healthy oceans.

Author: Sarah Hayward   Image: piervix
This blog was updated on 14/12/2016.
waves crashing against rocks

North American NGOs unite to discuss seafood sustainability

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In January, the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, and some additional guests, met in California to discuss the challenges and opportunities for sustainable seafood in the US and Canada. The event was the annual general meeting for the Conservation Alliance, a group of 16 North American nonprofit conservation organisations that work on sustainable seafood. Katie Miller, Sustainable Seafood Coalition Coordinator at ClientEarth, was invited to talk about progress in the UK seafood market and to learn more about developments in North America.

The meeting had three types of session: in depth presentations; high-level summary presentations (‘speed-dating’); and discussion groups. Subjects of particular interest were:

  • sustainable seafood business commitments in North America
  • updates from three aquaculture certification schemes
  • information about a data limited fisheries toolkit
  • increasing the visibility of fishery improvement project (FIP) information online

Katie Miller shared with the group how the SSC’s members worked together to create voluntary codes of conduct on responsible sourcing and harmonised labelling. The SSC launched the codes on 18 September and the members are now implementing the codes within their businesses.


Author: Katie Miller; Image: Katie Miller

Final days of MCS consultation

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On 20 October, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) launched its consultation period to review its 10 year old methodology for assessing the sustainability of wild-capture fisheries. The closing date for responses is Monday 1 December 2014. The MCS is a charity body whose work in providing information, campaigning and advocacy is focussed on the protection of the UK’s seas, shores and wildlife.

The consultation is being held in light of recent changes in advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) on stock assessments and fisheries management. The proposed changes by the MCS are aimed at ensuring the methodology, based on nominal “score ratings”, remains current and fit for purpose in “identifying sustainable seafood” for buyers and consumers. Among the seven proposed changes are:

  • slight modification to the range and overall rating scores so that each of the 4 “Fish to eat” categories of species or fishery are equally separated by increments of 2.5;
  • integrating “Certification” to the “Management” criterion resulting in 4 instead of 5 fisheries evaluation criteria;
  • decreased weighting for inherent vulnerability but increased weighting for management and capture method;
  • separation of stock status into Stock Biomass and Fishing Mortality;
  • expanding the Management criteria descriptors to improve transparency, incorporate new ICES language, and reduce possibilities for misinterpretation, among others.

The consultation document is available here and the responses questionnaire is available here. Comments and contributions are also being invited for the current Appendices tables concerning management and mitigation measures for fishing gear impacts.

Article: Emma Lui Image: Lettuce (cropped)

Final days of GSSI public consultation

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The public consultation period for the first draft of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative’s (GSSI) Global Benchmarking Tool is about to reach its close on Saturday, 16 August.

The GSSI was launched in February 2013 as a partnership of international stakeholders across the seafood industry. Through the creation of the Global Benchmarking Tool it hopes to provide transparency and comparability throughout existing labelling and seafood certification schemes.

The requirements against which schemes will be objectively assessed align with the FAO guidelines on ‘Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries’ and ‘Technical Guidelines for Aquaculture Certification’. The GSSI will recognise certification schemes using a three-tiered approach, which gives the tool the ability to differentiate between “responsible”, “improved” and “leading” practices.

The GSSI has stressed that the tool is still a work in progress. Following the end of the public consultation period, there will be a pilot testing period from September to October.  The GSSI hopes to launch the tool by summer 2015 and, with it, seafood businesses – like the members of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) – may be able to use the tool to make informed sourcing decisions. The SSC is working towards the vision that all fish and seafood sold in the UK is from a sustainable source, and we will soon be launching our voluntary codes of conduct for harmonised seafood labelling and responsible sourcing.


Author: Chloe Whitfield  Image: Cindy Del Valle