Author Archives: Oliver Tanqueray

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.”

Ramus Seafoods

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“It is important that we are doing all we can to protect the environment and help it flourish.”

Ramus Seafoods joined in April 2020

“As our business relies heavily on the environment – it is important that we are doing all we can to protect it and help it flourish. Future generations rely on the actions of today and we are committed to playing our part. .”

More about Ramus Seafoods

Ramus Seafoods supply quality fish and seafood to Hotels, restaurants and pubs across the north of England daily.

As well as the foodservice sector, Ramus also offers a range of pre-packed fish and seafood for premium retailers nationwide – meaning that any farm shop, deli or butcher can now stock quality fish and seafood without the hassle.

For more information visit the Ramus Seafoods website.

 

SSC seeks consultant to conduct 2020 implementation report

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The members of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition are inviting consultants to tender for their 2020 Implementation Report. The report will assess the implementation of the Codes of Conduct in the sourcing and labelling practices of SSC members.

In 2017, to mark the two-year anniversary of the SSC Codes of Conduct, ClientEarth initiated the first independent, third-party assessment of their implementation by SSC Members. The Implementation Report process now takes place every three years. It is an important measurement against which the success of the SSC’s voluntary, pre-competitive collaboration model is assessed. All members commit to aligning with our Codes of Conduct within a year of joining the coalition.

The intended audience for this report will be:

  • the SSC members and secretariat, to measure and continually improve performance
  • other industry and NGO stakeholders, to better understand the SSC model and its efficacy
  • members of the public who may wish to verify the public commitments made by SSC members in on-pack environmental claims or public-facing sourcing policies.

SSC members are eager to hear proposals from consultants on how best to measure progress made by the coalition towards its goals.

If you or your organisation would like to tender for this project, please follow the instructions in this invitation. Please consider passing this on to others who might be interested: Invitation to Tender.

Fishmonger and processor sustainability to be recognised in new award

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Fishmongers and processors across the UK are invited to demonstrate their sustainability credentials in a new award from the Master Fishmonger Standard. The MFS Sustainability Awards, with categories for both retail shops and seafood processors, rewards those who can demonstrate commitment to sustainable sourcing within their business.

The Sustainability Awards form part of a new suite of awards introduced by the MFS that recognise excellence in the processing and fishmongering sector. These new awards, alongside the certification of the five MFS tiers, will feature at the MFS Awards ceremony to be held on 8 June 2020 at the historic Fishmongers’ Hall.

Fishmongers and processors will submit supporting paragraphs, photos or videos alongside their application before the winner is selected by the MFS’s chief examiner. Entries close on February 24.

The full entry criteria are as follows:

Sustainability – Retail:

To be awarded to a Company.

The applicant must provide a paragraph outlining and evidence of:

  • the Company’s purchasing policy and procedures
  • Instore initiatives for educating consumers on sustainable seafood
  • Support for improving fisheries and aquaculture

Sustainability – Seafood Processor:

The applicant must provide a paragraph outlining and evidence of:

  • the Company’s purchasing policy and procedures
  • Packaging: consumer engagement on sustainability
  • Support for improving fisheries and aquaculture

For more information on these awards please visit the Master Fishmonger website.

The Sustainable Seafood Coalition brings together businesses committed to responsible sourcing and improving the sustainability of seafood bought and sold in the UK. Get in touch at ssc@clientearth.org, or use the contact form on our homepage to find out more about membership.

itsu

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“We are committed to supporting the sustainable future of seafood.”

itsu joined in January 2020

“itsu has always strived to provide beautiful food to its customers, that is delicious, healthy & most importantly, responsibly sourced & sustainable. Seafood is a core ingredient within our menu, and we are committed to supporting its sustainable future”

More about itsu

itsu is an Asian inspired Food-to-Go restaurant, with 75 shops within the UK, and a recently opened shop in New York. itsu employs over 1,300 staff.

For more information visit the itsu website.

 

D&A Seafood Solutions

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“Future generations rely on the actions of today.”

D&A Seafood Solutions joined in January 2020

“As our business relies heavily on the environment – it is important that we are doing all we can to protect it and help it flourish. Future generations rely on the actions of today and we are committed to playing our part. .”

More about D&A Seafood Solutions

Our business supplies Retailers, Restaurants, Hotels and Caterers from our BRC accredited site on Grimsby Fish Docks. Our business has grown organically for 10 years in a row.

For more information visit the D&A Seafood Solutions website.

 

Meridian Sea

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“Membership of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition enables us to work alongside a wide range of companies within the fish and seafood sector.”

Meridian Sea Limited joined in January 2020

“As a small independent business, membership of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition enables us to work alongside a wide range of companies within the fish and seafood sector. Companies of all types and sizes within the coalition share a diverse wealth of experience and knowledge; working together ensures best practice in striving to supply only fish from sustainable sources.”

More about Meridian Sea

Established in 1997 and with more than 50 years of experience in fisheries, we import and distribute a range of fish, seafood and hand harvested organic seaweed. Working closely with our partner producers, the transparency of our supply chain demonstrates the provenance and sustainability of the fish and seafood that we work with.

For more information visit the Meridian Sea website.