Vancouver – Traditional unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) and səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) First Nations AND Halifax/Kjipuktuk, unceded Mi’kmaw territory — Canadian shoppers will now be able to judge whether the companies that supply their every day seafood items – from canned tuna to frozen fish sticks – are actually walking the walk or are just talking the talk when it comes to sustainable seafood, thanks to a new report by watchdog SeaChoice.
SeaChoice reports on 13 of the most prevalent seafood brands found in the Canadian marketplace through its Seafood Progress platform where, since 2018, the group has been evaluating the commitment of grocery stores to seafood sustainability. Among the brands investigated are Ocean Brands, Clearwater, Clover Leaf, High Liner and Aqua Star. SeaChoice reached out to the vast majority of brands, and all but one – True North Seafood – chose to engage directly to inform their first Seafood Progress profile.
“Overall, the engagement from brands has been impressive, which is fortunate because I quickly learned that publicly available information on their commitments to sustainable and socially responsible seafood is very limited and open to interpretation … In fact, as a result of them engaging and following our guidance, 6 of the brands – including Toppits and DOM – established clear commitments to sustainability that reference credible standards and publicized these on their websites for the first time.” SeaChoice Supply Chain Analyst Dana Cleaveley.
Out of the 13, only two brands – Clover Leaf and Rio Mare – have comprehensive commitments to social responsibility and collect and trace data indicative of human rights violations. Only half of the brands profiled – including High Liner and Ocean Brands – have a code of conduct reflecting their commitment to social responsibility that suppliers are expected to abide by.
“An inspiring outcome of this exercise is that nearly half of the brands reported on the percentage of seafood sold in the past year that was in line with their sustainability commitments for the first time through their Seafood Progress profile … This directly supports SeaChoice’s intention that Seafood Progress should serve as a tool to increase supply chain transparency and drive improvements upstream to fisheries and aquaculture practices in Canada.” Dana Cleaveley.
The results also reveal that all brands need to put far more effort into clearly communicating their products’ attributes to consumers in store. For instance, approximately 70% apply unverified self-claims (e.g., Clearwater’s “Responsible Fishing Since 1976” self-claim) on product labels which can confuse and mislead consumers on the sustainability of the products.
Finally, the presence of key information on labels that is required for consumers to make informed purchasing decisions is disappointingly low at 48%. SeaChoice commends Rio Mare for being the only brand to announce action on this through its commitment to label all products with scientific name, geographic origin, wild or farmed and gear type or farming method by the end of 2024.
To view each brand’s performance and message of advocacy for consumers to send in just a few clicks, head to SeaChoice’s new Seafood Progress website.
SeaChoice is a science-based, solution-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.