SENA15: Panel to explore seafood environmental marketing claims


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
March 10, 2015

For any seafood buyer concerned about where seafood comes from and how it’s produced, sustainability is an important issue, and most seafood sellers can be counted on to be prepared to answer those concerns with claims to be producing sustainable or environmentally responsible seafood.

But not all claims are genuine, and even well-meaning markets may use differing definitions of “sustainable,” which means buyers have to be ready to go beyond the face value of claims that a seller has truly gone green.

“There’s an opportunity for the industry to really get out there,” Matthew Thompson, aquaculture project lead for the New England Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Programs, told SeafoodSource.

Thompson will be a panelist in a discussion taking place in Boston on 16 March at Seafood Expo North America 2015. He will be joined by attorney Andrew Homan, Katie Miller, a coordinator with U.K.-based ClientEarth, and Phil Gibson, principal owner of U.S.-based Responsible Seafood Solutions.

No matter the motivations of the seller in question, Thompson noted there is no official standard definition of terms such as sustainable, so a buyer is at the mercy of multiple sellers’ definitions of the word.

“They don’t always mean the same thing,” he said.

The best advice is simple: Ask questions about claims a company makes to be sustainable, and how the company can back up such claims.

“You should definitely ask people, first and foremost, ‘What do you mean by this?’” Thompson said.

Even if a company can verify its sources are sustainable, Thompson said it pays to keep an eye on them, as the science behind aquaculture and fisheries is constantly evolving.

“Sustainability’s really an ever-changing destination,” he said.

To learn more, visit the panel at 3:45 p.m. on 16 March, in Room 152 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

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