Major seafood companies need less talk, more walk on sustainability

Monday, April 24, 2023

Vancouver | Traditional unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) and səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) First Nations AND Halifax/Kjipuktuk, unceded Mi’kmaq territory — A new SeaChoice report shows which seafood brands are laggers and which are leaders in social and sustainability commitments. The 2023 Seafood Progress report examines 13 multinational companies as they gather at the Global Seafood Expo to promote their seafood brands.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Most companies are failing to set meaningful targets. Just over half of brands profiled (including major players such as Clearwater and High Liner) have not set deadlines for achieving their sustainable seafood goals. Without setting target completion dates, their commitments lose meaning and day-to-day operations are bound to take priority over sustainability goals.
  • One company fails to disclose its progress. For the second year in a row, True North, a division of Cooke Aquaculture Inc., is the only brand to decline to engage and take accountability for its role in the seafood supply chain. Consequently, True North received the lowest score across all brands at 27 per cent.
  • Some companies take action on greenwashing. Due in part to SeaChoice’s guidance, two major canned tuna brands (Ocean Brands and Rio Mare) and one salmon brand (DOM) reported they are working to remove their self-declared claims of sustainability from packaging. Janes is the sole brand to only apply third-party verified claims on its packaging.
  • Several companies are making progress. Ocean Brands and Clover Leaf both received the highest overall score at 90 per cent, and Toppits achieved the most improved overall score since last year (from 47 to 69 per cent) across all brands. Toppits’ efforts include up-to-date disclosure of the amount of seafood sold that met its commitment and advocating for critical improvements to the Best Aquaculture Practices and Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification standards.

“Sustainability is no longer just a marketing buzzword to be seen at the Global Seafood Expo,” SeaChoice supply chain analyst Dana Cleaveley said. “Companies need to prove to their customers and shareholders that they are taking meaningful steps to address social and environmental sustainability. Accountability and transparency are no longer optional.”

“We applaud those companies that are voluntarily removing self-claims of sustainability from their products,” SeaChoice Living Oceans representative Kelly Roebuck said. “The European Union is proposing to ban vague and unverified green claims; meanwhile, the Canadian government’s lax regulation for green claims enables a Wild West. Requiring claims be third-party verified would help build consumer confidence while ensuring a fairer playing field across the industry.”

Evidence that consumers are taking notice of Seafood Progress is demonstrated by the nearly 3,500 emails sent to brands and grocers from profile pages over the past year. These emails call on seafood brands to drive meaningful improvements to fisheries and aquaculture and to have better measurements in place for accountability.

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Media Contact

Dana Cleaveley
Supply chain analyst | SeaChoice

SeaChoice is a science-based, solutions-focused influencer, advocate and watchdog leading the next evolution of seafood sustainability in Canada. Launched in 2006, SeaChoice was created to increase consumer awareness around seafood sustainability in Canada with the primary goal of shifting seafood procurement and consumption to more sustainable options. SeaChoice is a member organization of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and is a collaboration of three internationally recognized organizations: the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society.

Seafood Progress is a platform that SeaChoice has used to report on major Canadian grocers’ performance against their commitments to sustainable and socially responsible seafood since 2018. In 2022, SeaChoice expanded its platform to include some of the most prevalent seafood brands sold in the Canadian market. Backgrounders: Seafood Progress 2023 Summary Report on Brands Scoring Methodology for Seafood Brands European Commission: Ban on Greenwashing The Common Vision for Sustainable Seafood

Seafood Progress
2023 Summary Report on Brands
Scoring Methodology for Seafood Brands
European Commission: Ban on Greenwashing
The Common Vision for Sustainable Seafood

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