Sustainable Seafood Coalition sets its stall out

Published on
May 17, 2011

The newly formed Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC), established by environmental law organization ClientEarth, has announced its vision and nine specific goals for the UK seafood market following its first meeting late last week.
SSC’s vision is simply: “All fish and seafood sold in the UK is from sustainable sources.”

The organization aims to:

• Promote sustainable seafood consumption

• Encourage UK consumers to eat a wider variety of sustainable seafood, and to introduce species to its stores and restaurants that are currently underutilized or discarded

• Support the sustainable use of unwanted discarded species’ trimmings and offal in the manufacture of fishmeal

• Use harmonized seafood labeling based on agreed standards to provide consumers with accurate information on sustainability

• Require fishermen, where possible, to collect catch and discard information for the seafood sourced by coalition members and pass this information to government authorities for use in scientific assessments

• Adhere to a new voluntary industry code of conduct agreed by the coalition until sufficient management measures and labeling rules are in place

• Influence changes in policy at UK, EU and international level

• Build national and global alliances

• Inform the public on seafood

“All our members were present including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who attended for part of the meeting. At the end of the meeting, members agreed upon a very ambitious vision for the group and specific aims,” said Melissa Pritchard, marine scientist with ClientEarth. “Consequently we will be holding the working group meetings on diversification, data collection and sustainable seafood sourcing, as well as the labeling reform group in June and July, in which we will be inviting relevant non-member experts (NGOs, government departments, etc.).

“These working groups are the first steps toward the development of the voluntary codes of conduct,” she told SeafoodSource.

ClientEarth officially unveiled the SSC on 18 April. This body, which includes many of the UK’s leading brands and supermarkets, has taken it upon itself to lead the way on eliminating fish discards in the country’s fishing industry without waiting for policy to do so.

Since its launch, the SSC has secured two more high-profile members — the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s and leading seafood processor and supplier Thistle Seafoods.

Its ranks already included Waitrose, The Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Young’s Seafood, Birds Eye, The Saucy Fish Co, Fish 4 Ever and the Food and Drink Federation.

According to ClientEarth, these businesses have joined the coalition because they are frustrated with the lack of progress to overturn the practice of discarding.?? The SSC’s next full meeting will be on 1 September.

In late April, Jason Holland conducted an in-depth interview Pritchard about the SSC. Click here to read part one, and here to view part two. 

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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