Author Archives: Oliver Tanqueray

Collaborating for better traceability: the SSC endorses the GDST Standards

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The Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) has collectively endorsed the GDST 1.0 Standards and Guidelines for Interoperable Seafood Traceability. SSC members trade seafood from around the world. Having robust traceability systems in place across these global supply chains is an integral component of responsible seafood sourcing. In a letter published today, the coalition commends the work of the GDST to develop a unified framework within which the seafood industry can implement these systems.

At an SSC Members’ Meeting, the coalition agreed to endorse GDST 1.0 and integrate GDST principles into the SSC’s definition of robust traceability practices. The SSC members and Secretariat will work to reflect these developments in key SSC documents.

The SSC Codes of Conduct currently include a commitment to robust traceability measures. The GDST 1.0 Standard represents significant progress in collaboratively-defined standards of what such measures should include. The SSC will establish a Traceability Working Group to update its Codes of Conduct and Guidance documents to reflect best practice, in collaboration with GDST colleagues. In addition, several members have already chosen to individually adopt and implement GDST 1.0 within their own supply chains.

The SSC seeks to encourage business commitments to responsible sourcing and to establish common language and practices in seafood sustainability. Global alignment of traceability practices is an integral component of achieving these goals. Implementing interoperable traceability systems requires collaboration and standardisation across supply chains; the SSC has worked with these cross-cutting principles for the ten years since it was established.

A number of SSC members have already adopted the Standard, including Sainsbury’s, Lyons Seafoods, New England Seafood International, Youngs, Morrisons, Hilton Seafood UK, Coop, Seafresh Group. At the SSC members meeting, the coalition agreed to encourage the wider adoption of the Standard by individual businesses. By integrating the principles of the GDST Standard 1.0 into the SSC Codes of Conduct and Guidance documents, SSC members will be better supported in implementing best practice traceability processes within their own supply chains.

Joe Prosho from Morrisons said “The GDST Standards provide an invaluable framework for aligning seafood traceability standards and we look forward to wider recognition and adoption across the seafood industry”.

William Davies from Hilton Seafood UK said “Responsible sourcing of seafood involves ensuring the integrity of the product, along with relevant data flows in the supply chain. Hilton Seafoods support and encourage the wider role of out of the GDST within seafood supply chains and the alignment of data points within the agreed KDEs for wild and farmed products.”

The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) is an international, business-to-business platform established to advance a unified framework for interoperable seafood traceability practices. The Dialogue brings together a broad spectrum of seafood industry stakeholders from across different parts of the supply chain, as well as relevant civil society experts from diverse regions.

The Dialogue developed interoperable industry standards (known officially as GDST 1.0) to; improve the reliability of seafood information, reduce the cost of seafood traceability, contribute to supply chain risk reduction, and contribute to securing the long-term social and environmental sustainability of the sector.

Oceanic Seafoods

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“We joined the SSC as we believe that a sustainable future is possible and want to play our part in achieving it.”

Oceanic Seafoods joined in April 2021

Oceanic Seafoods is focused on the importance of conservation of marine stocks and maintaining a natural balance in the ocean environment. We have recognised the problems facing the industry and consistently look to advise our customers of the importance of sustainability and where possible to buy product from responsibly farmed or sustainably caught sources.

We have joined the SSC as we believe that a sustainable future is possible and want to play our part in achieving it.

More about Oceanic Seafoods

“At Oceanic Seafoods the procurement of quality frozen seafood is not just our speciality, it is our passion and constant driving force.

We are run on strong principles that inspire confidence in our team our suppliers and our customers alike.”

For more information visit the Oceanic Seafoods website.


Thistle Seafoods

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“Sustainable fishing is at the heart of Thistle’s ethos.”

Thistle Seafoods joined in April 2021

Thistle Seafoods is a family-owned organisation, which recognises the importance of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and to help ensure the long-term future of the fishing industry.

Sustainable fishing is at the heart of Thistle’s ethos. As a result we continue to foster strong working relationships with our suppliers and trade partners to impart knowledge and an understanding of the need to work towards greater sustainability, and to bring their thinking and work practices in line with ours.

More about Thistle Seafoods

Thistle Seafoods is a highly innovative, private label manufacturer of chilled and frozen coated and value added seafood products whose origins date back to 1947. We pride ourselves on the quality of fish products, service level, flexibility and reliability. In addition we have a very proactive and highly successful development department, which monitors market trends, creating fish products to meet consumer and customer needs.

2019 MSC Retail Supplier of the Year.

For more information visit the Thistle Seafoods website.



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“Sustainability is a part of everything we do.”

HelloFresh joined in December 2020

As the world’s largest meal kit provider, we make a significant and positive impact on the environment. We have a lean and innovative supply chain that significantly reduces food waste compare to traditional retail, optimises packaging and favours local and responsible ingredient sourcing. Additionally, we are committed to offsetting 100% of direct carbon emissions.

More about HelloFresh

At HelloFresh our mission is to change the way people eat forever. We deliver all the ingredients, instructions and inspiration you need to make delicious meals at home, from scratch.

HelloFresh SE is the world’s leading meal-kit company and operates in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, France and Denmark. In Q3 2020, HelloFresh delivered over 162 million meals and reached five million active customers.

For more information visit the HelloFresh website.



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“Working with the SSC is an opportunity to ensure we are helping our suppliers to achieve a responsible approach to seafood.”

Booths joined in December 2020

We work with suppliers to ensure they are sourcing from fisheries and farmed aquaculture operations that are responsibly managed, guaranteeing the highest quality product for our customers and protecting fish stocks and the environment for future generations. We share the vision of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition and working with them is an opportunity to ensure we are helping our suppliers to achieve a responsible approach to the seafood we sell.

More about Booths

Booths is an independent, family run supermarket business with 28 stores in Northern England. Established in 1847 by Edwin Henry Booth, the current Chairman Edwin J Booth is the 5th generation of the family to run the business.

For more information visit the Booths website.


2020 Implementation Report: Members hard at work along their supply chains to improve sustainable sourcing

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The second comprehensive study of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition’s (SSC) Codes of Conduct shows the impact the Codes are having on responsible sourcing and labelling amongst SSC members.

The SSC is a group of leading retailers, foodservice providers, suppliers and producers of seafood in the UK, with a shared vision that all fish and seafood sold in the UK be from sustainable sources. They have several aims to promote this, including subscribing to the voluntary SSC Codes of Conduct on seafood sourcing and environmental claims.

The Sourcing Code seeks to ensure consumers can be confident that the seafood they buy meets or exceeds minimum standards of responsibility, while the Labelling Code seeks to create harmonised seafood labelling that will provide consumers with accurate information on the provenance and sustainability of the fish or seafood.

Every three years, an independent implementation report is conducted to access the success of the SSC model, and the consistency with which the Codes are being implemented. This year’s report was written by team Charmelian, a collaboration between Melanie Siggs, Charlotte Tindall and Iain Pollard. You can read it here.

Key takeaways

The implementation report found very high alignment with SSC codes. It analysed the 27 commercially-active members that have been members of the SSC for more than one year. This includes companies such as Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S. The report found that among these members:

  • 96% have sourcing policies in line with the Sourcing Code, while 56% have publically available sourcing policies;
  • 88% of risk assessments meet the Sourcing Code;
  • 100% meet responsibility claims on their own labelled products, while 91% meet sustainability claims on their own labelled products per the Labelling Code;
  • And 93% have improvement plans for farms, while 95% have improvement plans for fisheries.

It’s clear that SSC members are engaging all along their supply chains to improve sustainability of their farmed and wild-caught sources. Over 90% of members include their seafood products in the scope of the SSC Sourcing and Labelling Codes, meaning they apply the Codes to their own-brand seafood products and apply risk assessment processes accordingly. And where products fall into high-risk categories, members have shown they are engaging in proactive improvement measures.

Responsible sourcing and risk assessments

96% of members were found to have sourcing policies that were in line with the SSC Sourcing Code, which is commendable. The sourcing policies of many members link to their risk assessments, which all members undertake as part of SSC guidance to identify problematic areas in their supply chains.

The report found that most members undertake their risk assessments annually, if not more often. Risk assessment reviews vary, but often include checking sustainability progress against audits or fishery improvement plans, as well as assessing scientific advice.

These risk assessments have played a big role in improving responsible sourcing practices. The report notes clear examples given by members of times when a seafood product was not sourced due to the risks assessed as part of the SSC Code.

While responsible sourcing has become a best practice, just over half of members are making their sourcing information public – with an additional 13% offering partial information. As data collection and risk assessments become more standardised, the report recommends that this information become more transparent over time.

Fishery improvements and traceability

The majority of SSC members mentioned their work to improve sustainable fishery practices, with one member engaging with as many as 20 improvement projects. The report notes that collaboration between SSC members and the places where they source seafood products is key to building sustainability along the supply chain.

Traceability is also a focal area where members are actively working together, alongside different actors. Digital traceability systems are becoming more prominent, so members have an impetus to benchmark their existing tools and make the switch to digital ones.

Digital traceability improvements even include developing graphics illustrating key points on the supply-chain journey, to encourage public knowledge and transparency.

Advocacy and measuring impact  

In addition to ensuring adherence to the SSC Codes – what are the emerging areas for improvement?

The report suggests that the SSC has potential to bring more leverage to issues of shared importance through increased advocacy efforts.

An example of this happening already was with the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy (NAPA) group, set up because of SSC member collaboration. In 2020, SSC members met with the UK pelagic fishery industry to explain the Codes and to find a solution for maintaining sourcing. As a result, the SSC played an important role in starting the fishery improvement efforts.

Another suggested area for growth is improving ways to measure impact more concretely. This would include establishing causal effects on environmental improvements, to help establish where additional and larger impacts could occur.

As SSC members conduct more streamlined assessment reports and increased data collection, along with digital traceability improvements, new ways to measure impact will certainly be possible.

Looking ahead

The 2020 implementation report offers many highlights for existing best practices, and places where we see members investing increased attention as they work to improve both their sourcing and labelling practices, along their supply chains.

Together, these Codes will continue to act as tools for change – and this report will help guide us towards the next step of fulfilling SSC members’ shared vision: towards an entire UK seafood industry that is from sustainable sources.

SSC members urge Government to put sustainability at heart of Fisheries Bill

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As the Fisheries Bill returns to Parliament, some of the biggest seafood businesses in the UK have come together to call on the UK Government to enshrine sustainable fishing in law following Brexit.

Businesses from the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) have written a letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice calling for vital changes to the Fisheries Bill. Read it here.

The Fisheries Bill is a core piece of the UK Government’s legislation on post-Brexit policy, setting out a framework for UK fisheries management for generations to come. This is a pivotal opportunity for the UK to develop world-leading sustainable fisheries management and make changes to existing ineffective policies.

Towards more responsible management

In the letter to the Environment Secretary, SSC businesses argue that the current ineffective management of fisheries limits the ability of UK fishing communities to sell to responsible UK businesses. It also impacts the availability of sustainably sourced seafood for consumers.

Instead, a more sustainably-minded Fisheries Bill could reduce reliance on imports, strengthen ties between national fisheries and seafood businesses, and improve responsible sourcing across the board, boosting the health of our oceans and their precious resources.

Businesses are calling for:

  • Sustainable fishing limits that are legally binding, in order to prevent overfishing;
  • Robust monitoring and enforcement to better aid vital data collection and ensure compliance with the rules; and,
  • Sustainable management of shared stocks – essential given that the UK shares over 100 stocks with the EU alone.

The letter is signed by 22 of the UK’s leading supermarkets, brands and processors. These are: Tesco, Waitrose & Partners, Sainsbury’s,  The Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Lidl, Whitby Seafoods, Lyons Seafoods, Bidfood, Hilton Seafood UK, Direct Seafoods, Young’s, New England Seafood, the National Federation of Fish Friers, The Big Prawn Co., World Wise Foods, Seafresh Group, Joseph Robertson, The Happy Prawn Co., Lynx Purchasing and Meridian Sea.

Opportunity for UK leadership

Melissa Tillotson, Aquaculture & Fisheries Manager at Waitrose & Partners, said: “The opportunity to manage shared stocks – that represent such an important element of UK fisheries – based on international law, robust sustainability and scientific evidence should be at the heart of the Bill.”

Helena Delgado Nordmann, Responsible Sourcing Manager – Marine at Tesco said: “The Fisheries Bill represents a great opportunity to improve the UK’s fisheries management. The implementation of fully documented fisheries by Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) will bring the evolution on transparency and traceability that we need. We are very keen to see this reflected in the new legislation.”

Sustainability and the SSC

These business are members of the SSC, which is a platform of businesses that sell seafood in the UK. We work together to agree to voluntary industry standards on environmental sourcing and labelling, and collaborate to solve sustainability challenges.

SSC Coordinator Oliver Tanqueray said: “SSC members want to see stronger legislation to ensure sustainable fishing practices are enshrined in law. The UK should be leading on this issue and not falling short of international best practices. Consumers are demanding sustainable seafood – to be able to source this from UK waters, businesses need to see better management of our fisheries.”

Members of the coalition operate under the guidance of their Codes of Conduct, collectively written to underline shared commitments to responsible sourcing. As a result, the SSC has helped approximately three quarters of all seafood sold in UK supermarkets to be labelled and sourced responsibly.

Flatfish Ltd

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“Flatfish Ltd understands the very real vulnerability of world fish stocks and marine habitats. We are committed to ensuring that marine ecosystems and healthy population levels of targeted species are protected.”

Flatfish Ltd joined in September 2020

“Flatfish Ltd recognises it has a responsibility to ensure sound social, ethical and environmental practices within its own operations, supply chain and in every market it operates. We are committed to ensuring that all our procurement practices are carried out in the most sustainable and responsible way possible and this includes the responsible procurement of all raw materials sourced to produce any product involved in the Flatfish Ltd business.

Flatfish Ltd understands the very real vulnerability of world fish stocks and marine habitats due to an increase in fishing and in particular the use of irresponsible and unsustainable fishing methods. Flatfish Ltd is committed to working with its suppliers to ensure that all fish throughout the supply chain is sourced sustainably, using responsible fishing methods, that ensure marine ecosystems and healthy population levels of targeted species are protected, safeguarding the feasibility of future fish supplies. ”

More about Flatfish Ltd

“Flatfish Ltd as part of the Nissui Group (Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd) is a leading worldwide marine product supplier. Our customer base principally includes highend and other major retailers offering an extensive portfolio of chilled, traditionally smoked and frozen products.”

For more information visit the Flatfish Ltd website.


Associated Seafoods Ltd

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“We’re delighted to have joined the SSC to work alongside other companies to drive best practice and sustainability.”

Associated Seafoods Ltd joined in June 2020

“As one of Scotland’s leading processors, we are aware of the impacts that our industry can have on the wider environment. For this reason, we are committed to ensuring that we act in the most responsible manner that we can, and are delighted to have joined the SSC to work alongside other companies to drive best practice and sustainability within the seafood sector.”

More about Associated Seafoods Ltd

Situated along the Moray Firth coastline, Associated Seafoods Ltd was established in 2010 whe nit became the parent organisation of two local seafood businesses. Between the two companies, we have over 160 years of experience and are now one of Scotland’s foremost producers in Scottish smoked salmon and langoustine scampi cores.

For more information visit the Associated Seafoods Ltd website.


Five years on: Progress and opportunities for the Sustainable Seafood Coalition

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In 2011, ClientEarth brought together leading seafood retailers, suppliers, brands and foodservice outlets in the UK to tackle a shared issue: sustainable sourcing and labelling in the seafood industry.

Together, we created the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) – a voluntary, progressive partnership of businesses selling seafood in the UK with a shared commitment to responsible sourcing. ClientEarth helped develop voluntary Codes of Conduct signed by SSC members in 2015, marking a pivotal moment in developing best practices for sustainability in the industry.

In the five years since establishing the Codes of Conduct, the SSC has grown to include 40 members, including eight of the UK’s ten biggest food retailers. It has offered businesses practical and collaborative ways to improve their sourcing policies – and has even shared best practices globally.

As the SSC Secretariat, ClientEarth reflects on the initiative’s beginnings, its success so far, and how the Coalition hopes to lead on sustainability in the future.

Filling the legislative gap

In the UK, there is a lack of legislation defining environmental claims made about seafood by businesses.

Existing EU legislation only requires fish products to be labelled with the species name, its approximate catch area, and whether it was caught or farmed in fresh or sea water. It has no control over using terms like ‘sustainable’ or ‘responsible’. This can lead to voluntary environmental claims made on retail seafood products that are misleading and unverified.

In 2013, the EU passed a new regulation that ‘environmental information’ be provided on a voluntary basis for seafood, providing it is ‘clear and unambigious’. However, the law does not specify any parameters to ensure consistency.

In response to this, ClientEarth instigated a platform to develop industry-led voluntary commitments on how to responsibly source and label seafood in the UK.

Creating industry-wide best practices for sustainability

ClientEarth helped develop two Codes of Conduct – the Labelling Code and the Sourcing Code – which ensure consistency and minimum criteria standards are established in areas where laws are insufficient or non-existent.

“SSC members came together to agree on what terms like ‘sustainability’ and ‘responsibility’ actually mean in relation to seafood,” says Oliver Tanqueray, Sustainable Seafood Coalition Coordinator. “This helped us develop clear guidelines to make sure voluntary environmental claims made by businesses are clear, consistent and meaningful.”

One condition in the SSC Codes is that the terms ‘sustainable’ and ‘responsible’ are not used in isolation, but specified, such as ‘sustainably sourced’ or ‘responsibly farmed’. It also means businesses commit to annual risk assessments, ensuring public transparency, and making sure seafood  can be traced to its source.

SSC members commit to align their sourcing and labelling practices with the Codes of Conduct within a year of joining the Coalition. This means all own-brand products should be sourced and labelled in line with agreed standards.

Making an impact, at home and abroad

The SSC has already made an impact on the industry. In 2017, an independent sustainability consultant found that that consistent labelling in the UK had increased by 15% since the SSC was founded.

It also found that, of 80 products assessed, 97% of voluntary environmental claims from SSC members used language in line with the SSC Labelling Code. On the flip side, 14% of environmental claims made by non-SSC member businesses did not align with SSC labelling best practices, compared to only 3% of SSC members.

“One of the great things about the SSC is that it has been recognised as a world-leading platform for leveraging market influence to achieve positive change,” says Tanqueray. “Businesses in the seafood industry that are not SSC members still look to our Codes as informal standards by which to measure their own practices. This influence helps move the sustainability dial in the right direction for the entire industry.”

The impact of the SSC is not limited to the UK. ClientEarth is asked by emerging initiatives all over the world for advice on mirroring the SSC model.

For example, the Hong Kong Sustainable Seafood Coalition was able to establish itself in the market three times faster than the initial UK platform by adopting SSC Codes of Conduct as its model. To bolster global collaboration, ClientEarth also convenes the Dialogue for Pre-Competitive Collaboration Platforms, which brings similar international initiatives together to catalyse global progress.

New initiatives and future goals

ClientEarth and SSC members are continually trying to strengthen sustainability guidelines as we look to the future.

From 2018-2019, we helped build updated risk assessment templates for sourcing both wild and farmed seafood. These templates provide new tools for businesses to identify environmental metrics for their seafood sources, and find areas for improvement within current sourcing practices.

Efforts to improve UK sustainability in the seafood industry has also resulted in advocacy initiatives. Last year, UK retailers launched a global campaign to reform management of the North East Atlantic Mackerel stock. This was spurred by the SSC commitment to improve problematic areas within supply chains – in this case, the failure of coastal state co-management in setting appropriate fishing quotas for mackerel.

As the SSC looks ahead, identifying problematic areas within supply chains and mitigating harmful environmental impacts of overfishing will be a priority.

Tanqueray says, “The vision of ClientEarth and the SSC is that all fish and seafood sold in the UK is from sustainable sources. In the coming years, we hope to bring more of the industry on board, build new alliances, and promote responsible and sustainable seafood at the consumer, business and government levels in the UK and beyond.”