More seafood buyers getting behind responsible sourcing tool

Published on
October 5, 2015

A growing number of businesses from across the U.K. supply chain are using Seafish’s free online responsible sourcing tool to make informed seafood purchasing decisions and to better manage their reputation in the marketplace.

Launched in September 2014, the Risk Assessment for Sourcing Seafood (RASS) now lists 280 fishery profiles containing information on stock status, the efficacy of management, as well as seafloor habitat and bycatch impacts.

It is available to all seafood buyers in the wholesale, foodservice and retail sectors, with users including Waitrose and Young’s Seafood.

“We use RASS to assess the fisheries that we source our seafood from. We have our own metrics to assess if a fishery is responsible or not. Some of the information we need is easy to come by, but a lot is a lot harder and can take a lot of time, involving reviewing scientific journals, speaking with academics and talking to fishermen,” said David Parker, marine biologist at Young’s.

“With RASS we find that Seafish has already done a lot of that hard work for us. We use the data to inform our own assessment, and we can also request specific reports if there is a supplier that is not included on the database.”

Waitrose also uses RASS to support its own responsible seafood sourcing strategy. Developed over the last 15 years, its policy demands that suppliers must only source fish from fisheries or farmed aquaculture operations that are responsibly managed.

“RASS is our belt and braces. It provides us with additional background information, including scientific assessments, that is really useful,” said Riyaz Dhalla, brand policy manager at Waitrose. “That gives us the extra assurance that an independent expert has looked at the product and approved it for sale. It’s an extra level of due diligence, over and above our own.”

Tom Pickerell, technical director at Seafish, said it was essential to Seafish that it created a platform that businesses were able to consult with in order to make their own sound sourcing decisions, based on existing company principles, rather than being told what seafood they should and should not buy.

“Over the past year, we have seen a great pick up and would encourage more businesses to follow in the footsteps of these businesses as we continue to build on the number of fisheries and information available on RASS. Crucially the tool will also eventually address ethical and welfare issues around sourcing seafood that remains an area of great concern for the industry,” he said.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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