Author Archives: Oliver Tanqueray

Biodiversity is Everyone’s Business: SSC to host a side event at the UN Ocean Conference

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***DOWNLOAD THE JOINT INDUSTRY STATEMENT ON BBNJ HERE***

The Sustainable Seafood Coalition is proud to be hosting an official side event at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon on 28th June 2022. The Secretariat will present a joint industry position statement on Marine Biodiversity of areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). This statement has been signed by the SSC, the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA) and the Hong Kong Sustainable Seafood Coalition (HKSSC). This is the first time the seafood supply chain has taken an aligned public stance on the High Seas Treaty.

UPDATE: We are pleased to announce that H.E. Mrs. Margo Deiye, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary will be speaking at the event. Mrs. Deiye is the Permanent Representative of Nauru to the United Nations.

Event Details

If you’ll be in Lisbon for the UN Ocean Conference, please come and join us from 17:45 – 18:45 CET at the Ocean Basecamp, Passeio do Adamastor, Edifício Nau, 1990-007 Lisboa.

Link to Google Maps location here.

Stay tuned for more announcements on meeting format and speakers.

About the BBNJ position statement

For the original announcement of the BBNJ position statement, read our launch article here. You can also read the position statement itself here.

Collectively this position is supported by more than 85 seafood companies including Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Ahold Delhaize, Metro, Princes, Pacifical, LienThai and Fortune International. They have collectively recognised commercial fisheries impacts as the largest direct driver of biodiversity decline in the high seas, and call for transformative change to address the climate and biodiversity crises.

Competitors working together and taking ownership of social and environmental impacts makes it possible to achieve real, transformative change that no single business or platform could achieve alone.

Why are we hosting an event?

As buyers of seafood, the businesses we represent have recognised that a robust High Seas Treaty can provide an important part of the solution to ecosystem degradation and biodiversity decline in the high seas. Recognising that individual business voices can struggle to have an impact, we have entered into a pre-competitive partnership in order to be heard. Our respective initiatives have shared objectives with regard to BBNJ and have worked together in order to align our asks.

A side event at the UN Ocean Conference offers the opportunity to make more stakeholders – in policy and in industry – aware of the asks being made by seafood buyers around the world. The asks set out in our position statement are directly aligned with Goal 14. These include:

  • An ambitious treaty capable of complementing the conservation and management measures of regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs).
  • Recognition that coastal and island states stand to bear the brunt of the negative impacts of pressure on the high seas – often whilst unable to exploit the high seas themselves.
  • An ecosystem approach to be taken in policy-making in all relevant divisions of Government and processes
  • Ensuring a balance between conservation and sustainable use of marine biological resources is achieved.

The event will focus on the reasons why the protection of biodiversity in the high seas matters to seafood businesses. It will highlight the work of industry stakeholders who are already calling for a robust treaty, and provide a platform for anticipated new partners to announce their support. The event will close with a clear call to action: an invitation for seafood businesses in all geographies and markets to sign the position statement and join our advocacy campaign for a robust High Seas Treaty.

 

About the event organisers

The SSC is a pre-competitive collaboration platform of forty-five seafood businesses working to harmonize sourcing and labelling practices throughout their supply chains. The GTA is an independent group of 42 retailers and tuna supply chain companies who are committed to achieving more transparent, socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable tuna fisheries. The HKSSC is an industry-led coalition, comprising of members from Hong Kong’s seafood industry and the wider business community. Its vision is for all seafood imported into Hong Kong to be legal, traceable and biologically sustainable

 

The SSC calls for clarity and ambition for the future of UK fisheries management

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This week the members of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition submitted a combined response to the Joint Fisheries Statement draft consultation. The coalition took the opportunity to highlight its concerns about the future of UK fisheries management.

The response, submitted by the coalition on behalf of its forty-five stakeholders in the seafood industry, called for:

  • A requirement for catch limits to be set that do not exceed the best available scientific advice;
  • Clear commitments by the UK Government to fully implement Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) in domestic fisheries;
  • Clarity on how all UK fisheries policy authorities will ensure that fishing activities are managed to enable Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to achieve their conservation objectives;
  • More reactive, real-time fishery management with shorter review cycles for Fishery Management Plans (FMPs).

Read the full SSC response to the JFS consultation here.

The Joint Fisheries Statement is a piece of secondary legislation required by the Fisheries Act 2020. In it, the UK’s four fisheries authorities will set out their approach to fulfilling the eight objectives of the Act.

The SSC’s consultation response follows a letter sent by the SSC to Secretary of State George Eustice on 8 September 2021. In that letter, coalition members highlighted the need for a legal commitment to fishing within sustainable limits, a robust Remote Electronic Monitoring regime, and the responsible management of shared stocks. These principles were not sufficiently enshrined in the Fisheries Bill 2020, but the Joint Fisheries Statement offers an opportunity to ensure that all Fishery Management Plans developed in the UK will comply with key sustainability principles.

The SSC and the Global Tuna Alliance join forces to make a stand on high seas biodiversity

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***DOWNLOAD THE JOINT INDUSTRY STATEMENT ON BBNJ HERE***

 

Today, partners of both the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA) and the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) – which includes every single UK supermarket plus many other companies – have published a joint position on Marine Biodiversity of areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) citing that although the supply chain rarely takes a stance on this topic, ‘biodiversity is everyone’s business’.

 

Marine Biodiversity in areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) refers to the marine life found in the ‘high seas’, and is known to be a murky and complex topic. The ‘high seas’ encompass all areas that lie beyond national waters – specifically, they are outside of the Exclusive Economic Zone of any country, and equate to almost ½ of the Earth’s surface. The high seas are largely unexplored, vastly deep, and teeming with marine life. At the same time, they are under increasing threat from overfishing, mining, climate change, and pollution. Only around 1% are currently protected and – due to the lack of clear rules and effective enforcement that follows – the high seas are notoriously difficult to manage and often subject to contention.

 

Nations across the world are working on creating an international legally-binding treaty to manage shared marine biodiversity in the high seas, and, until now, neither the GTA or SSC have stated individual positions on it. The coalition of retailers they comprise, though usually market competitors, have joined forces to publish a joint BBNJ position. They not only call on governments for action, but also hope that other organisations and businesses will be inspired to follow suit.

 

The voice of the supply chain tends to focus on seafood matters rather than biodiversity, however all seafood is part of a wider ecosystem. The health of this ecosystem is integral to the sustainability of seafood for future generations.

 

Giles Bolton, Responsible Sourcing Director at Tesco said:

“At Tesco, we want to make it easier for our customers to buy affordable, healthy, sustainable food. We are committed to sourcing from healthy marine ecosystems, however, currently there’s no robust global conservation framework for fishing in areas beyond national jurisdiction, or the High Seas. As a partner of both the Global Tuna Alliance and the Sustainable Seafood Coalition, we are pleased a strong common position on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ) has been established, and call on governments to accelerate action for a Robust High Seas Treaty, including a 30×30 commitment for a network of Marine Protected Areas.”

 

Under this joint position, every single UK supermarket is covered, along with 64 other supply chain companies. This collaborative approach between competitive businesses is unique and amplifies the global responsibility that is necessary under the BBNJ treaty.

 

As well as profitable seafood supply chains, GTA and SSC partners want to source from healthy and sustainable fisheries, which are directly linked to a healthy marine ecosystem. This joint position demonstrates how these major retailers are thinking about the bigger picture, stepping forward to make noise and call on governments for action. Because after all, biodiversity is everyone’s business.

 

Ocado

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“We want to join forces to help protect our oceans. Joining the SSC will mean we’re stronger together.”

Ocado joined in November 2021

We know that sourcing seafood in a responsible and sustainable way is an essential part of our role as a major grocery retailer – it is as important to us as it is to our customers. All of our Own-Label fish is sustainably and responsibly sourced and we work closely with our suppliers to make sure that there are adequate fish welfare and safety processes in place throughout the supply chain. We want to join forces with other retailers to help protect our oceans and seafood for generations to come and joining the SSC will mean we’re stronger together.

More about Ocado Retail

“Ocado Retail, a joint venture between Marks & Spencer Group and Ocado Group, is responsible for Ocado.com – the world’s largest dedicated online supermarket. It has over 805,000 active customers who benefit from an unbeatable range of almost 50,000 products including big-name brands, 7,000 items from M&S plus Ocado’s Own-Range. Ocado also has the lowest levels of food waste (0.4%) of any British grocer.”

For more information visit the Ocado website.

 

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.

 

HelloFresh

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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.

 

Booths

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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.