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The Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) has released a draft voluntary code of conduct to make seafood labeling consistent and easy for U.K. consumers to understand with accurate information on sustainability and responsible sourcing.

The “SSC Code of Conduct on Environmental Labeling and Self-Declared Environmental claims of Fish and Seafood” has been agreed on by the 27 SSC members, including Tesco, Waitrose, Morrissons, Marks & Spencer and Birds Eye.

It is the first seafood labeling code to be proposed by U.K. retailers.

The coalition, which was established in 2011 by ClientEarth, is seeking feedback on the draft from the public and interested stakeholders for a period of six weeks, from 26 April to 7 June 2013. 

The code sets out minimum commitments made by the members regarding voluntary environmental labeling, including self-declared environmental claims on or in relation to their own fish whether used on product labels, menus, in-store signs or other communications.

It is also supposed to ensure that such self-declared environmental claims have a consistent meaning in the market and avoid misleading consumers.

According to the SSC, voluntary environmental labeling and self-declared environmental claims that do not meet its minimum criteria will not be made at all.

Its minimum criteria include having an independently audited chain of custody with sufficient measures in place to trace the fish from its source fishery through all subsequent stages of fish landing, processing, distribution and marketing to the point of sale.

The SSC added voluntary environmental labeling does not extend to wider environmental considerations such as life-cycle analysis or the carbon footprint of the product. Nor does the code cover nutritional, social and ethical considerations.   

ClientEarth, as secretariat of the SSC, will collate the feedback after 7 June and present it to members for implementation.

Contact Madelyn Kearns

Associate Editor

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